While I was taking one part of the initial test, I was asked a question about Synesthesia, which at the time I knew nothing about. (I guessed and got the question right. SCORE!) But in the explanation of the correct answer I noticed that it referred to people who associate graphemes (letters, numbers and symbols) with colors.
“Doesn’t everyone do that??” I thought, and realized NO! Not everyone does that.
I have done this my ENTIRE life, ever since I can remember. Not only do I have involuntary color association to letters and numbers, but also to days of the week, months of the year and PEOPLE.
I started doing A LOT of research online into it and there’s actually not much research to be found. It was “the thing” to study back in the early 1900’s but it kind of fell out of favor because there wasn’t a scientific way of measuring the degree to which a person experiences Synesthesia.
ALSO, not only is there color association, but Synesthesia can manifest and associate with any sense, including taste, touch, smell and vision. Some people associate tastes with words, so that if you (or they) say the word “blue”, it may taste like coffee or butterscotch or soap.
Personally, I “see” letters, numbers, days and months in very specific colors in my head when I think about them. It’s almost as if I’m conjuring them up in my mind. I can’t change their colors, even though most of them aren’t my favorite colors or even colors I’d decorate a room with. It’s completely involuntary. To me, “A” is red. Someone else’s “A” might be green, which is fine, but it’s WRONG in my head.
Also, my colors are very specific and so sometimes are hard to describe. One of the first questions I usually get is “What color am I??” to which I reply “Well, you’re yellow, but not banana yellow. More like sunflower yellow but a little paler.” which is kind of insane in its specificity.
I found a test online to measure the degree to which you can pick the same colors for the same letters, numbers, days and months. It lets you pick a color to THIS FREAKING DEGREE OF SPECIFICITY…
…and it randomizes the letters and numbers all together so that you pick a color for each one three times, but never in sequential order.
They explain the scoring as follows;
In this battery, a score below 1.0 is ranked as synesthetic. Non-synethetes asked to use memory or free association typically score in the range of a 2.0. A perfect score of 0.0 would mean that there was no difference in the colors selected on each successive presentation of the same letter.
Here are my actual test results, ugly colors and all.
The colors that are displayed are the ACTUAL values I picked for each letter each time it was displayed. Some of them (E, W & Y) I’m obviously indifferent on. Further…
As for people, well, let’s pick on Natalie, Diana and Jim, shall we?
I haven’t found many people that do this. My friend Angela in Australia does it to the same extent I do (and is arguably nuttier than I am). If you also do this, please leave a comment and let me know!