Not to go all middle school on you, but what's your favorite color? What about your favorite number or ultimate ice cream flavor?
Maybe you're one of those people who likes chartreuse or only orders cotton candy sherbet. But there's a good chance your favorites aren't so unique. Here's a look at some of universally agreed-upon favorite things — and why we like them so much.
Photo: Chayasit Fangem/Shutterstock
From the sky and your jeans to Frank Sinatra's eyes, blue is found nearly everywhere (except the produce aisle) and it's apparently the world's favorite color. A few years ago, Dulux Paints surveyed people in 30 countries and more than half of respondents chose blue as their favorite hue. Red and green were close behind, but yellow was way down at the bottom of the list.
According to Jill Morton, an expert on color psychology who runs the site ColorMatters, "Blue has more complex and contradictory meanings than any other color."
"Most blues convey a sense of trust, loyalty, cleanliness, and understanding. On the other hand, blue evolved as symbol of depression in American culture," she says. "'Singing the blues' and 'feeling blue' are good examples of the complexity of color symbolism and how it has been evolved in different cultures."
Businesses hire marketing expert and author Martin Lindstrom to help them figure out what their customers want. Lindstrom, who uses neuro-scientific research to get a handle on consumer psychology, recently led a research team to uncover the "most addictive sounds in the world."
These are the sounds that are most likely to generate a response in people. The reason they are "addicting," Lindstrom told ABC News is "not the sound itself, but the consequence of the sound." A laughing (or crying) baby triggers feelings of maternal protection, he says, while a sizzling steak means a tasty meal is about to be served.
Here are the top five addictive sounds that aren't connected to any products or brands:
1. Baby giggle
2. Vibrating phone
3. ATM/cash register
4. "Star Spangled Banner"
5. Sizzling steak
OK, you probably called this one. If your lucky number is seven, you're in the majority. Math fan Alex Bellos really wanted to know the world's favorite number. He was so intrigued that he set up a website where he polled 30,000 people from around the world, asking them to weigh in on their favorite digits. "I conducted this experiment because I am fascinated by the emotional responses many of us have to numbers," he explains on the site.
Seven, he said, was the runaway favorite, with three and eight as runners-up.
On the site, Bellos shared some voter comments, including those who extolled the virtues of number seven.
"The number cheers me up and gives me a feeling of comfort," said a woman from Norway.
"Seven is the number of stellar objects in the solar system. Seven is the number of chakras. Seven is Sunday! Seven is the calling code for Russia. Seven just feels magical!" said a woman from the U.S.
Bellos told NPR that he was surprised how passionate people were about their favorites. "It's looking at numbers in a totally different way. You learn mathematical things, you learn human things, sometimes you want to laugh, sometimes you want to cry."
This one isn't so clear-cut. According to the most recent National Pet Ownership Survey from the American Pet Products Association, pet ownership in the U.S. is at an all-time high. Dogs and cats are by far the most popular pets, but the favorite depends on how you look at it.
Nearly half (46.7 percent) of U.S. households own dogs and just more than one-third (37.3 percent) own cats. So, go dogs! But not so fast. Because people are likely to own multiple cats, in terms of number of pets there are 83.3 million dogs owned and 95.6 million cats owned. So ... go cats? Let's call it a tie.
For the record, the popularity of dogs and cats is followed by freshwater fish (11.8 percent), birds and small animals (tied at 5.7 percent), reptiles (4.6 percent), horses (2.3 percent) and saltwater fish (1.5 percent).
Photo: Happy Together/Shutterstock
For some people, it's bacon. For others, it's newly cut grass. You'd think that what smells great to one person might be stinky to another, but science says that's not the case.
Israeli neurobiologists used a robotic "eNose" to rank dozens of smells by their pleasantness. The electronic nose uses sensors that are sensitive to and react to odor molecules to rate how a sniffer responds to a particular scent. In their study, researchers found these were the favorite smells from all the essential oils tested:
3. Bergamot (smells similar to an orange)
It's oddly reassuring to know that an American teenager would feel at home pretty much anywhere in the world thanks to three little letters. "Huh?" researchers say, is a universal word uttered by people in almost every language.
The term — a variant on the much-longer "say what?" — is "roughly found in the same form and function in spoken languages across the globe. So says new research led by Mark Dingemanse at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
The researchers studied recordings of conversations from 10 countries including Italian, Icelandic, Russian, as well as indigenous languages spoken in Ghana and Laos. The form of the word meaning "what did you say?" always sounded just like "huh?"
It's not unusual for a word here or there to sound the same in two languages (think numero and number), but having the same word in so many languages is no coincidence, says Dingemanse.
An article in The Smithsonian sums it up:
"In a sense, huh? is such a highly efficient utterance for serving its particular narrow function that it has emerged in different languages independently again and again — what’s known as convergent evolution, or the appearance of a feature in different, often unrelated organisms presumably because it works so well."
Flavor of ice cream
Get out of here with your pistachio and eggnog. When it comes to freezer favorites, Americans are loyal to chocolate ice cream. Basic vanilla is a close second.
According to a recent Harris Poll, more than one-quarter of people (27 percent) choose chocolate as one of their two fave flavors, followed by vanilla (23 percent) and cookie dough/cookies and cream (22 percent).
There is one small caveat. If you break it down by gender, women prefer chocolate by a tiny margin over men, who are slightly more fond of vanilla. Even more shocking, 2 percent of people say they don't eat ice cream — any flavor whatsoever. (There's just something wrong with them.)
How does your garden grow? With roses or daisies or wildflowers? If you're like the entire world, you choose roses for your flower beds or bouquets. According to The National Gardening Association, roses are the most popular flower across the globe.
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