Academic journal article Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

The Relationship between Hue Discrimination, Design-Related Courses of Study, and Color Education

Academic journal article Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

The Relationship between Hue Discrimination, Design-Related Courses of Study, and Color Education

Article excerpt

Abstract The purpose of this study was to examine differences in hue discrimination among individuals majoring in architecture, landscape architecture, art, or interior design and with different levels of color education. The FarnsworthMunsell 100-Hue Discrimination Test was utilized to distinguish differences in color discrimination.

Analysis of the test scores indicated an increase in ability to discriminate between hues as color education is increased. Additional color education seems to benefit hue discrimination of specific areas of the color spectrum. The hues of green-yellow through red-purple indicated significant changes with more training.

Data suggested that students' chosen majors at the university in the study had little effect on hue discrimination, with the exception of the green portion of the spectrum. A significant interaction existed between major and color education in the blue range of the spectrum.

Results of this study have an impact on not only the four aesthetic career paths but also on the education of other students. A better understanding that training will increase the hue discrimination of those individuals who are recognizably color deficient can help direct the curriculum of individuals not only at the college level but elementary and secondary levels as well.

Historically, academic thought indicates that a research design for a color study must be approached by one of the two paths that Acking and Kuller (1972) discuss-either color preference or the physiological relationship between color and light. Research has not approached the question of visual color perception based on human physical traits and the color education experiences of individuals.

Color perception is an intricate and complex process. The perception of hue, what the human sees and defines as a color, is an individually based process The actual color that will be seen by the eye depends on a series of factors, internal as well as external, which are linked together in a rather complex chain, some parts of which are more difficult to trace than others owing to the limitations of knowledge (Southall, 1937).


Color perception, the ability to see color, is closely linked to a human's ability to discriminate between hues. Information on hue discrimination has been limited to studies of infants' abilities to recognize color rather than the ability to highly discriminate. A study conducted by Teller (1981) demonstrated that there are clear age trends in the ability to discriminate selected hues from a background. At one month most infants failed to discriminate red, green, or both stimuli from the yellow background. However, by two months more than half succeeded, and at three months only one infant failed to discriminate. Individuals who fail to discriminate in certain areas of the color spectrum are called dichromatic. Individuals who can make subtle discriminations about every wavelength are said to be trichromatic. Three different functioning receptor mechanisms (cones) need to be operational in individuals who are trichromatic (Peeples & Teller, 1975).

Approximately 8% of the population suffers from problems with color perception; most of these individuals are male and inhabit the western world (Voke, 1981). According to Birren, noted colorist, less than one half of 1% of women suffer from a color deficiency disorder (1978). The usual definition of a visual color disorder is color blindness. Unfortunately, this term is a misnomer; this condition is very rare, and few men suffer from the inability to see any color. The more common, minor defects include the inability of 1 in SO men to see a certain range of hues and confusion of some hues: reds, browns, oranges, yellows, and greens. Most color defects are inherited but can also be acquired by disease or can be side effects of drugs or poison.

The development of not only a color language but the ability to train and retain color information has been studied by Park and James (1983). …

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