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Journal ArticleDOI

Practice in associating color-names with colors

01 Jan 1915-Psychological Review (Psychological Review Company)-Vol. 22, Iss: 1, pp 45-55

AboutThis article is published in Psychological Review.The article was published on 1915-01-01 and is currently open access. It has received 60 citation(s) till now. The article focuses on the topic(s): Reading (process).

Topics: Reading (process) (58%)

Summary (1 min read)

DIRECTIONS FOR THE EXPERIMENT ON NAMING COLORS

  • There are 4 typewritten lists of colors for each of the boards, and each list begins with the name of the color in one corner of the board, and gives the names of the colors in the order of their appearance on the board.
  • Twenty-five, of whom fifteen were women, practiced on the 'light' colors.
  • The table shows the average time required by the 45 subjects for naming the 100 colors and for reading aloud the 100 words.
  • As a rule the first trial was better than the others except that on the first day, and to some extent on the The practice gains are shown both in seconds and in per cent.

THE SECOND EXPERIMENT

  • It now seemed clear that the effects of previous practice do not afford a sufficient explanation of the difference in speed between color-naming and word-reading.
  • Accordingly the problem was attacked from another quarter.
  • The introspections of practically all of the students who had taken part in the first experiment agreed upon one point:.
  • After the preliminary practice, which was only intended to bring the students to such a point that their speed for simple colors and lists of words would be nearly uniform from day to day, experiments were begun with sets of colors arranged just like the others except for words or letters typewritten upon them.
  • The following transcript of the directions gives a sufficient outline of the course of this experiment.

DIRECTIONS

  • Read the list of words beginning with brown: then read the simple color-set beginning with gray.
  • Read the list of words beginning with gray: then the simple color-set beginning with pink.
  • Then read color-set 16, with full words on all colors, two times.
  • They are combined in the table so that wherever two records of the same kind were obtained on 1.
  • It may be noted that the rate of improvement is here almost the same as in the earlier experiment in spite of the fact that the colors were practiced only three times and the words only once instead of four times as in the earlier experiment.

CONCLUSION

  • No facts have been adduced to explain why more time is required to associate speech movements with a color than with the corresponding printed word.
  • But the evidence does throw some light on the problem in so far as it eliminates very definitely two lines of explanation which have been thought possible.
  • First, the phenomenon does not spring from a difference in the amount of practice which the two functions have had in the past.
  • The two functions do not overlap, and in all probability they depend upon distinct physiological processes.

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XVIII. PRACTICE
IN
ASSOCIATING COLOR-NAMES
WITH COLORS
1
BY WARNER BROWN
It
has
long been known that
the
process
of
recognizing
and naming
a
color takes more time than the process
of
recog-
nizing and naming
an
isolated printed word, such as the word,
for example, which designates the same color.
2
The following
experiments represent
an
attempt
to
gain
a
clearer under-
standing
of
this phenomenon.
The first hypothesis which presented itself
was
that
words
can be
recognized
and
named more rapidly because
we have
had
more practice
in
doing this than
in
naming
colors.
3
Accordingly
a
practice experiment
was
contrived
on
the
basis
of
Cattell's familiar color-naming test.
4
Experi-
1
From
the
Psychological Laboratory
of the
University
of
California.
'James,
W.,
'Principles
of
Psychology,' 1890, Vol.
I., p.
559. Cattell,
J. McK.
'Ueber die Zeit der Erkennung und Bencnnung von Schriftzeichen Bildern und Farben,
PhUos.
Stud.,
Vol.
2,
1885, pp. 635-650.
1
This explanation
of the
phenomenon
is
clearly stated
by
Cattell
in the
account
of its discovery which
he
gives under
the
title, 'The Time
it
Takes
to
See
and
Name
Objects'
(Mind,
Vol. 11, 1886,
p.
65).
He
says,
"The
time was found
to be
about
the same (over
J
sec.)
for
colors
as for
pictures,
and
about twice
as
long
as for
words
or letters. Other experiments
I
have made show that we
can
recognize
a
single color
or picture
in a
slightly shorter time liana word
or
letter,
but
take longer
to
name
it.
This
is
because
in the
case
of
words
and
letters
the
association
has
taken place
so
often that the process has become automatic, whereas
in
the case
of
colors and pictures
we must
by a
voluntary effort choose the name."
The same interpretation
is
given
by J. O.
Quantz
in his
monograph, 'Problems
in the Psychology of Reading,'
PSYCHOL. REV. MONOG., NO.
5, 1897, p. 10. "The
association is
of
the same sort in words as in forms or
colors,
for the connection between
the written symbols
and the
spoken sound
of
any given word is just as arbitrary
as is
that between
a
particular geometrical form
and its
name
as
uttered.
But the
asso-
ciation between forms
or
colors
and
their names, being less necessary than between
written
and
printed (spoken?) words
has
been less frequently formed
and the
former
has remained
a
voluntary process while
the
latter
has
become automatic through
repetition."
•Cattell
and
Farrand, 'Physical
and
Mental Measurements
of
Students
of
Columbia University,'
PSYCHOL. REV.,
Vol.
3,1896, p. 642. Wissler,
C,
'The Correla-
tion
of
Mental
and
Phsyical Tests,'
PSYCHOL.
REV.
MONOG.,
NO.
I6,
1901,
p. 8.
Hollingworth, H. L., "The Influence of Caffein
on
Efficiency,'
Arch,
of
Psychol.,
No. 22,
1912,
p. 16.
45

46 WARNER BROWN
ence had shown that the Columbia test was weak in the fol-
lowing points: Not all the color names were equally familiar;
they were not all equally hard to say (for example red, yellow;
blue, violet); there were strong brightness contrasts between
some of the colors; the chance arrangement of the colors
resulted in some bad sequences; the one-centimeter squares
were too small, making it difficult to 'keep the place' with the
eye.
The test was accordingly modified in these respects:
The color squares were increased in size to one inch; the
sequence was so arranged that no color square was placed
next to another of the same color and a color was not per-
mitted to occur less than twice nor more than three times in
any row; only four different colors were used in any one set
and these were all either 'light' (white, pink, brown, gray)
or 'dark' (black, red, blue, green);
1
the colors all had one-
syllable names; all of these names were highly familiar.
2
It was expected on the hypothesis of Cattell and Quantz
that sufficient practice would make it possible to read off
the color names as rapidly from the colors themselves as
from a printed list. If the difference in speed depends upon
previous practice it should, by further practice, be possible
to reduce the time consumed in reading colors but not possible
to reduce to any considerable extent the time required to read
a list of words. In order to test the truth of this hypothesis
it was necessary to show not only that the speed of color
naming can be increased by practice but also that the speed
of reading words can not be increased so much by an equal
amount of practice. For the practice in reading words, lists
were typewritten with the one hundred color-names arranged
in the same order as the colors themselves. The words in
1
The colors used were the papers supplied by the Milton Bradley Company, of
Springfield, Mass., under the following designations: Black, White, Neutral Gray
No. 2,
Engine Colored Paper
No.
2B (brown) and
No.
iB (pink), Red, Green, and Blue.
*
The modified form of the Columbia test recommended by Woodworth and Wells,
'Association Tests,'
PSYCBOL. REV. MONOG., NO.
57, 1911, p. 49, meets most of the
difficulties mentioned above, but unfortunately it was not published until after the
present experiments were partly completed. It may be noted that in the Woodworth
and Wells test the colors appear on a white background whereas in the form here used
the squares were larger and juxtaposed without background.

COLOR-NAMES 47
each line were separated by a comma and one space; the lines
were separated by a triple space. For each set of colors there
were, of course, four distinct lists of words, corresponding to
the four arrangements of colors which were encountered on
beginning in the four different corners of the color-set. For
every practice trial in associating the colors with their names
there was a practice in reading the words from the corre-
sponding list.
A record-blank, including complete directions, was given
to each worker at each practice sitting; it read as follows:
DIRECTIONS FOR THE EXPERIMENT ON NAMING COLORS
There are two boards of colors. Each board contains 25 squares of each of 4
colors, and there is a different color in each corner of the board. There are 4 type-
written lists of colors for each of the boards, and each list begins with the name of
the color in one corner of the board, and gives the names of the colors in the order of
their appearance on the board.
The purpose of the experiment is to measure the maximum rate of speaking when
reading the lists of words or naming the colors, and to see how much this rate can be
increased by practice.
First day's work. Take the time with a stop-watch for reading aloud, as fast
as you possibly can, the words on the typewritten list beginning with Black. Enter
the time, in seconds and fifths of a second, opposite "List black" in the table below.
Then take the time for calling out the names of the colors, as fast as you possibly can,
from the board, beginning with Black in the upper left-hand corner and reading
by
rows
from left to right. Enter the
time
opposite' Board black'
in
the
table.
Then enter the
time for each of the remaining items in the table, being careful to take them in the
order indicated by the numbers.
1.
List black 3. List white
2.
Board black 4. Board white
5.
List blue 7. List brown
6. Board blue 8. Board brown
9. List green H. List pink
10.
Board green 12. Board pink
13.
List red 15. List gray
14.
Board red 16. Board gray
Second and succeeding days. Use only one board of colors and the lists which
belong with it. Do not look at the other board or its lists, nor allow any one to read
them in your hearing. Record the times for the right (left)
1
hand half of the table in
the order given, and do nothing with the other half of the table.
Twelfth day. Exactly the same as the first day.
Forty-five students took part in the experiment. All
»
l
If the subject was to practice the 'dark' colors the word
right
was expunged;
if he was to practice the 'light' colors the word
left
was expunged.

4
8
WARNER BROWN
practiced for twelve practice-periods. Most of them worked
twice a week, but a few practiced daily. Twenty-five of the
forty-five were women. Twenty, of whom ten were women,
practiced on the 'dark' colors. Twenty-five, of whom fifteen
were women, practiced on the 'light' colors. As no essential
difference appears between the light and dark colors the data
have been combined for the entire forty-five workers.
1
The condensed data are presented in Table I. The table
TABLE
I
GAIN
BY
PRACTICE
IN
NAMING COLORS
AND
READING WORDS
Average of 4$ Subjects
The time is the average of the 4 trials made each day.
Day.
I
2
3
4
S
6
7
8
9
IO
II
12
Colors:
Av.
Time
Required
to
Name
Them.
Sees.
5S-8
50.9
46.4
45'2
43-7
42.8
42.4
41.4
41.4
41.1
40.7
41.4
Colors:
Av.
Gain
in
Speed
Over
xst Day.
Sees.
4-9-
9.4
10.6
12.1
13.0
13.4
14.4
14.4
14.7
15.1
14.4
Colors:
Av.
Gain
in
Speed
Over
xst Day,
Per Cent.
8.8
16.8
I9.0
21.7
23.2
24.O
25.8
25.8
26.4
27.I
25.8
Words:
Av.
Time
Required
to
Read
Them,
Sees.
35-2
33.O
31-6
30.8
30.2
30.4
29.9
295
29.4
29.O
29.4
29.3
Words:
Av.
Gain
in
Speed
Over
xst Day,
Sees.
2.2
3.6
4.4
5.0
4.8
S-3
S-7
S-8
6.2
S-8
S-9
Words:
Av.
Gain
in
Speed
Over
xst Day.
Per Cent.
6.3
10.2
12.5
14.2
I3.6
I5.I
16.2
16.5
17.6
16.5
16.8
Ratio:
Tune
for
Colors
Divided
by
Tune
for
Words
1-59
1-54
1-47
1.46
144
1.41
1.42
1.40
1.41
1.42
1.38
1.41
shows the average time required by the 45 subjects for naming
the 100 colors and for reading aloud the 100 words. The time
is the average for the four trials which were made each day.
2
1
On the first day of work, when records were made for all of the subjects with both
light and dark sets
(»'.
e., the first practice record with one set and the first check record
with the other set) the times were as follows:
Time required to name ioo dark colors 56.0 sec; 100 'dark' words 36.0 sec
Time required to name 100 light colors 55.8 sec; 'light' words 35.2 sec.
This insignificant advantage of the light sets remains unchanged through the course of
practice. Most persons prefer to work with the light colors on esthetic grounds.
Some subjects complain of getting the tongue twisted around the words, blue and
black in the dark sets because of the identity of their initial sounds.
1
These four trials did not differ greatly from one another. As a rule the first
trial was better than the others except that on the first day, and to some extent on the

COLOR-NAMES
49
The practice gains
are
shown both
in
seconds
and in
per cent.
In both cases
the
amount
of
gain
is
computed
on the
basis of
the speed
on the
first
day
of
work.
The
table further shows
the ratio between
the
time required
for
colors
and the
time
required
for
words.
In Table
la the
records
are
shown
for the
tests which
TABLE la
TESTS
ON
UNPRACTICED
SETS,
FOR
WHICH RECORDS WERE MADE
ON THE IST
AND
I2TH
DAYS
OF
PRACTICE
Column
headings
as
above.
I
12
55-9
47-4
8.5
15.2
35-8
32.0
3,8
10.6
1.56
148
TABLE \b
SEPARATE
STATEMENT
FOR MEN AND FOR
WOMEN
FOR THE
IST
AND
I2TH DAYS
OF
THE
REGULAR PRACTICE WORK
Figures
for
Women
in
Italics
Headings
as
above.
I
I
12
12
58.9
53-3
42.0
39-9
16.9
13-4
28.7
25-1
3S-6
35-i
29.9
20.0
57
6.1
16.0
1.74
1.66
1.52
1140
1.3S
were made
on the
first
and
last days with different sets
of
colors
and
words.
In Table Ib the data
of
the first and last days are arranged
to display
the
fact that women excel men
in
speed
in
naming
colors,
but
that men improve more with practice.
1
From
the
data
of
Table
I.
and
from
an
inspection
of the
curves
of
Fig.
1 it
can
be
seen that
the
hypothesis
on
which
this experiment was based
is
probably
not
true.
At
the end
second
day,
there
was
improvement from trial
to
trial.
The
following figures were
obtained
by
averaging
the
records
for the
last
ten
days
of
practice:
ist
trial ad trial 3d trial
4th
trial
Time
for
100 colors
42-3 4*-3 43-° 4*-
8
Time
for
100 words
29.0 30.4 29.9 30.5
Evidently
the
practice gains during this period occur
in
the
intervals between sittings,
'overnight,'
and not
during
the
course
of a
sitting.
1
The superiority
of
women
in
naming colors
has
been observed
by
Woodworth
and Wells,
PSYCHOL.
REV.
MONOG.,
NO. 57, 1911, p. 51, and by Wissler,
PSYCHOL.
REV.
MONOG.,
NO.
16, 1901, p. 17.

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