Colour Diagnostic Test for Recruitment or CoachingMohamed Bedawy
One of the challenges facing professional recruiters and coaches today is how to discover the
real person behind the mask of the person they are evaluating. Most tests depend on words.
If you were taking the test, you can analyse the test questions for their implications before giving your final answer. However, you or the test interpreter can be at a loss assessing whether the profile created is the real you or a mask, i.e., how you want to be seen by others.
This inherent weakness of a word-based personality test led to the creation of the Luscher
Colour Diagnostic Test in 1947. The creator, Prof. Dr. Max Luscher, is a Swiss psycho-
therapist who is the world’s authority on colour psychology. He wanted to design a
psychometric test that was simple, universally communicable, and accurate.
Luscher chose colours as his test medium after realizing that there will always be differences
in verbal interpretation. For example, the word cold means differently when applied to
temperature or to the way someone speaks to you over the phone. Language is only as old as
the history of mankind. Colours, on the other hand, have been in existence since the birth of
the universe. Over billions of years, the meaning of colours underwent refinement. When the
human race emerged, colours were one of the earliest media on which there was common
agreement in meaning across all tribes and races.
When you take the colour test, you choose based on your feelings, rather than what you think
is the meaning of the colour. As you look at each colour, your instinct tells you whether you
like or dislike it, in much the same way that you taste a variety of food. You don’t think
whether a food dish is good for your health or not before eating it. It is your taste buds that
Similarly, you try and guess whether there is a pattern in a colour test but soon give
up guessing because while you have always preferred red to blue, for example, you don’t
really know why you dislike black or brown. Because you let your feelings dictate your
preferences, your colour test answers are, therefore, more spontaneous and honest, compared
to how you respond in word-based tests where you can somehow predict your psychological
Each colour, therefore, has the same sub-conscious meaning to any human being. The
universal meaning of these colours has been planted in our DNA, learned after trial-and-error,
as we evolved in our natural history.
Yellow is the colour of the sun and the herald of daytime, when our early ancestors were free to roam to hunt for food and to search for new territory. Yellow represents adventure, cheerfulness and freedom.
Blue is the colour of heavens and, especially, of the night, when the body must rest and sleep in peace. Blue symbolizes serenity.
Red is the colour of blood and blood is critical to life. Red is, therefore, the symbol of action and energy.
Green is the colour of trees and of plants and plants turn into life-nourishing food. Green
represents abundance, wealth, stability, predictability and order.
While colours have a universal meaning, they also have a subjective meaning. Your colour
combination preference is dictated by your own values and attitudes. If you are an action-
oriented person, you would probably put red as your first choice. If you like a calm and
peaceful life, blue will be high up. If you are always on the lookout for new experiences, then
yellow would be at the top. If you are a person who values prestige and status, green will
appeal very strongly to you. Your colour combination will be different from others and so
would be your psychological profile.
One of the greatest values of the colour test lies in its identification of prevailing stress,
anxiety and compensating behaviour. Everyone suffers from some form of anxiety, some
more serious than others. We spend our lives full of worrying and these stresses show up in
our health and behaviour. The Luscher test reveals the true cause of our anxiety as well as the
next step to minimizing or eliminating it altogether.
The depth of the test result can be seen in this example. A very successful entrepreneur claims
he is very tired, working on most weekends. If we were his armchair adviser, we would
probably tell him to go and have a long vacation. Reviewing his answers in the Luscher test,
however, we identified that he had a very serious problem at home. The anxiety was that of a
failed bond with a partner and the compensatory behaviour was to suppress this failure by
pouring his time and efforts into his business. So the next step really was marital counseling,
not a vacation.
Through the colour test, we are able to trace the cycle of anxiety-compensating behavior-
anxiety-compensating behaviour that people who are under severe stress are going through.
They may appear normal physically but the colour test shows a different story. Many times,
when a person takes the test, his physical appearance may show tiredness and even
exhaustion. We can predict that the test results will also reflect this physical feeling.
Various scientific tests have shown that people with a specific test answer pattern are more likely to be
suffering from a certain health problem as well, thereby proving that one’s emotional state is a
cause of psychosomatic behaviour.
Unlike many personality tests, the colour test can be taken again and again. Since your
emotional state would vary over periods of time, your answers to the Luscher test are also
likely to change.
Psychologists and psychiatrists, especially in Europe, have been the earliest adopters of the
colour diagnostic test. The test has also been used by criminologists and army and police
intelligence units who need to do extensive probing of a personality. In recent years, the test
has also caught the attention of recruiters, personnel appraisers, coaches and counselors who
are looking for a more effective psychometric test to aid them in their work.
* The use of colours eliminates the temptation in word-based tests to rationalize one’s
response and to project a desired image rather than the actual personality.
* The colour diagnostic test, having been designed primarily for psychologists and
psychiatrists, goes deeper into the psyche than do most personality tests that are used
primarily for career counseling or inter-personal relationships.