Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Proper Color Enhances Processing

Monica S. Castelhano (Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts at Amherst) and John M. Henderson (Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland) published some interesting research demonstrating the power of proper color. They tested various scenes to see how quickly people processed the "gist" of it and then whether that processing was enhanced purely by the use of color or it it was the use of "proper color." They tested abnormally colored blurry scenes, normally colored scenes and monochrome blurry scenes. The results? Proper color matters.

Our brains register the colors in the pictures and link the colors to our expectations of how it should be. Colors supplement and strengthen the structural information we absorb. In 42 milliseconds, our eyes can receive an image and send it to our brains. Our brains can then manipulate this information, and activate schemas that rely on a network of stereotypes that help us make sense of it all. Color, in effect, allows our brains to be more efficient and allows us to function better and react faster in any environments we may find ourselves. Hooray for color --- and for psychology.
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