Thursday, 4 March 2010

Colours Help You Remember Better...

How I Heard About This: This is something many of us believe or are told at school, but I wanted to know if there was any scientific evidence of this. Turns out there is.
Main Source:
Backup Source:
Topic: Memory/Learning...

Details: It is not hard for us to concede that colours have a profound effect on our moods and perceptions. Even if this is just a gut-feeling, we know that if we walked into a room painted entirely red we would feel differently than if the room were painted a gentle off-white.

In 1950 Faber Birren proposed that warm colours, such as red and yellow, increase arousal more than cool colors, such as green and blue. G. D. Wilson (in his 1966 book "Arousal properties of red versus green. Perceptual and Motor Skill") reported similar findings in his study. He exposed 20 undergraduate students to a slideshow of alternating red and green colors. They were instructed to look at a cross in the center of each slide. During the course of the experiment, he used electrical conductivity of the skin and galvanic skin response (GSR) to measure arousal. Wilson found that both measures of physiological arousal were higher during the viewing of the color red than they were for green. Other researchers found similar results: Jacobs & Hustmyer, (1974), Levy (1984), O’Connell, Harper, & McAndrew (1985)

Arousal and Memory

It is apparently widely accepted in the scientific community that arousing events have the ability to increase memory (B. Roozendaal, 2002) and that when undergoing arousing events, hormonal changes in the brain lead to enhanced memory. A groups of researchers in 2007 split a group of participants into two groups. Both were shown a set of slides depicting a story accompanied by a taped narrative that described each slide. One set showed "arousing" content, while the other showed neutral content. After viewing the slideshow, tests showed that recognition for the more arousing story was significantly higher than recognition for the neutral story.

These studies make sense, I certainly remember the more emotionally charged moments of my life over less arousing ones. It is not a massive step for us to conclude that the use of colours when we are trying to remember something might cause greater arousal and thus help us remember things a little better.

Colour and Memory

In 2006 a group of researchers tested 120 participants by giving them a sequence of images of natural scenes on the computer. Each image was either in colour or black & white. The test subjects were then shown these images again, and asked if they had seen any of these scenes before. Those with colour where more easily identified than those in grey scale.

Advice: this is proof that you should use a set of highlighter pens when you're trying to remember something. I kinda knew that before but now I KNOW it.

1 comment:

  1. What is the name of the researcher who conducted the research in 2006 for colour and memory?