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Free Luscher Color Test: Description, Instructions, & Online Variations

Developed by Dr. Max Lüscher, at a Swiss psychotherapist, at the early age of 23, the Lüscher Color Test or Lüscher Color Diagnostics asks the test taker to choose between eight colors in the order of how good these feel at that very point in time. Preferences for these colors when it comes to things like cars, clothing, or accessories ought to be disregarded; what matters is how these colors make you feel or how much you like them intuitively upon looking at them. What are or have been your favorite colors does not matter. After selecting an order, the participant should take a small pause before the test requests that the very same exercise be repeated. The repetition is very important and variance between the two rounds provides a lot of the information that the test produces. Personally, I close my eyes as I click to go into the second round and, upon opening them, make my best attempt to choose quickly solely through instinct.

Carrying out this test should not take longer than 2 minutes, that is, the test taker ought to choose impulsively, based on gut feelings, without trying to replicate first-round choices or over-thinking the exercise, its point, or what possible meanings the colors may have. Links to three versions are provided below.

Though I know exactly how the algorithm works, I have chosen not to explain it here or provide a link to any detailed information regarding how the results are obtained.  My reason for not providing the information is that this test has the very peculiar characteristic that it can be taken an infinite amount of times at different points in one's life and each result may prove insightful as to how you feel and what you require (in this sense, you may take it as often as you want to, just don't try to fool yourself by doing so twice in a row unless your state of mind and how your body feel has changed).  Knowing how the algorithm works makes this harder; I still take the test from time to time, putting effort into disregarding what I know, but I find it hard to do so even if still possible.

If you want to know how the results are calculated, please leave a note in the Comments section below or contact me privately through any other means and I will provide it to you directly.

Luscher Color Test: The psychology of the semantics of each color is pivotal for semiotics
Photo of colored cards, placed side by side, used in the Lüscher Color Test.
Different versions may carry different colors, but one thing that is often noted
of the traditional version is that the red in the test isn't really red, it is orange,
and the blue is a navy blue, and the green is a dark green, as seen in the next image.

Screenshot of a selection round in a free, online version of the Lüscher Color Test
Colors available in the traditional Luscher Color Test, available online
for free (first link below).  The colors themselves never vary, but on-screen
position always does.  Both selection rounds look like this screenshot.

This test was created while Max Lüscher worked a Human Resources job that required him to screen potential applicants. That is part of what it does, but it is not really what it does; in fact, more often than not, it does not provide insight into a person's job potential and their tendencies for carrying out assigned tasks. Nevertheless, like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI; click to test yourself) and Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2; click to take the test), the Lüscher Color Test is used sometimes for screening job applicants, though much less often.

A published research article — Holmes, C.B., Wurtz, P.J., Waln, R.F., Dungan, D.S., and Joseph, C.A. (1984). "Relationship Between the Luscher Color Test and the MMPI". Journal of Clinical Psychology 40(1), January: 126-128. — used a tiny sample of 42 graduate students to compare MMPI-2 and Luscher Color Test results and found little relation between the two. Since the MMPI-2 (click here its history) is regarded as the best profiling tool available, the authors argued that the Luscher Color Test ought to be used with caution if at all. Even though I do not agree with the foundations underlying the way color semantics are established in Lüscher's procedure (see Sidenote below), I understand that paper's conclusion to be mistaken because it relies on the presupposition that both tests attempt to measure the same thing: a person's personality. But these tests don't measure the same things, and people don't really have set personalities, as any good military branch or Department of Defense around the world can attest to based on their experience screening people for certain type of operations or for ascertaining whether someone is trustworthy enough to received Classified or Top Secret information.

The MMPI-2, the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory, the Enneagram Personality Test (click to take the test), and the Luscher Color Test all look at different aspects of a person's behavior, different components if you will. Even the Defense Style Questionnaire, which is not a personality test, can reveal an important facet of a person's "personality" that none of the other tests can readily tell you. I am currently working on an article where the differences in what is measured is explained systematically in a clear model, and I am hoping to integrate all the results into its own overarching algorithm that provides a better profile than any of these tests considered by itself. (But, as you may imagine, creating such a program is quite hard. I will update this post once that article is finished... and hopefully the program too.) For the time being, it may be enough to note that the Lüscher Color Test provides, at best, some insight into a person's current state of mind. Test-retest variations can ultimately be even more productive as patterns emerge in tendencies. I've seen from experience that the results other people get are almost always things that I have never gotten, and viceversa. The Anxiety and Compulsiveness scales received via the first link are of particular note as the tendencies emerge.

Of the three free, online versions provided below, the first is the most complete, being the only one that gives the information that Human Resources people are looking for. The third is mostly click-bait to sell their test, manuals and procedures, but I have chosen to link to it anyway because it provides a different way altogether of doing the test (e.g., no second round), even if it has the fatal programming flaw that some configurations that fail to produce any information.  The first and second links provided are to versions that produce the same basic categories of results:
  1. Existing Situation
  2. Stress Sources 
  3. Restrained Characteristics
  4. Desired Objective
  5. Actual Problems
The first version of the test provided below further divides the Stress Sources into three sections:
  1. Physiological
  2. Psychological
  3. In Brief
"In Brief" very succinctly paraphrases the result within the two preceding divisions. Furthermore, in contrast to the second link provided, the algorithm of the first link generates four additional categories:
  1. Ambivalence (if applicable)
  2. Approach to Work (if applicable)
  3. Anxiety (degree of which is numbered on a scale from 0 to 6)
  4. Compulsiveness of Compensations (numbered level on a scale from 0 to 6)
The second link's algorithm is far more verbal than both the first and third, providing a longer description; however, there are recurring problems with the algorithm, mainly in the areas of faulty grammar and orthography and the fact that it often repeats propositions, but all in all it is still pretty sound and sometimes the repetition is meaningful. The only reason the first test does not fall into the same problems is because it simplifies the written structure and requests of the user to replace gender whenever necessary. The Luscher Color Test is gender-neutral insofar as the results it affords such that asking the user to change the gender in their minds if necessary is of no real consequence.

Warning: You are probably going to find your results depressing. Results are problem-oriented and apply to your present situation. These psychological diagnostic programs are inferential engines that try to assess the different aspects of the situation you currently find yourself in.  They take into account your current preference and your current stance regarding your situation, as well as your life objectives and the manner in which you are dealing with your current problems. The image below is an example of the results provided through the third link, which are much simpler (and has many less possible configurations, of which at least one is bugged and shows no information at all) than those provided by the programs in the first two links.

Screenshot of results of a limited Lüscher Color Test carried out through a different testing procedure and including different colors
Click to Enlarge.
Example of results of the most basic Luscher Color Test provided
in the links below. Both the testing procedure and the colors
themselves are different in that version; hence, it is worth trying it.

Because of the amount of color combinations possible, the first two Lüscher Color Test provided will always provide variations, unless you answer in the exact same way, which would be highly unusual. This test is best used as a guide, not a diagnostic mechanism. However, as a guide, it is good to take it again as your moods change to explore how your perspective and context has changed and what would be the best way to approach the new scenario that you are in.

Sidenote: I do not agree with the underlying psychology or philosophy of the test. The test relies on universalized assumptions that color preferences have a strong innate component related to archetypes, a view that I do not agree with. The test has also faced serious objections from psychological investigations. Nevertheless, though it shouldn't be taken as a diagnostic, I have found it to be extremely helpful in clarifying some key aspects of my moods and bodily states as these shift and shape a new perspective with regards to the existing context. Besides, the very same objections apply to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (click for history and assessment of its reliability), the Keirsey Temperament Sorter (download a journal article with history, explanation, and reliability assessment), the Enneagram Personality Test (click for journal article regarding reliability and applications), and almost every other profiling test currently available, a topic I will address in a future post. Therefore, I still invite you to make use of it, but in a responsible manner.

To summarize, none of the personality tests that exist do what they claim to do - describe your personality. In this respect I particularly despise the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, which actually makes the MBTI less accurate. However, the problem isn't in the tests themselves, rather in what they claim to do. All these tests, even the MMPI-2, fail to realize that personality are just tendencies within larger teleological decision-making processes that are almost entirely based on constraint-satisfaction neural networks and usually context-dependent. Explaining where each of the pieces measured by each test fits in - and providing a logical formalization of - the larger model will be my next large task here at Cognitive Dynamics.

In the meantime, go ahead -
Take the (Highly Recommended)

Lüscher Color Test

Or try

the Color Quiz!

Or finally, to variation's sake, try the more basic (and bugged)

Lüscher Color Diagnostics


Other psychological personality tests you may enjoy:

Attachment Style Test (New article, with complete theory, dynamics, and free copies of the DSM V and ICD-10!)

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

The Enneagram Personality Test

The Defense Style Questionnaire


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