A group of scientists led by Alice Skelton from the University of Sussex, UK, investigated the perception of color by children under six years old. The totality of the reactions of the children showed that they distinguish five colors: red, green, blue, purple and yellow. Their findings were presented in an article published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A classic example of cognitivistics is English sky blue, green grass, in Vietnamese both these colors are denoted by the word han (incidentally, in Turkic languages a similar phenomenon is observed: kok-tea – “green tea”, Koktebel – “blue bay” ). Traditionally, this is considered a confirmation of the fact that the perception of colors is largely determined by language. However, new studies on children between the ages of four and six months showed that we can distinguish up to five base colors long before we learn the language. And this suggests that the biological component in the perception of flowers is more significant than previously thought.
The study examined the ability of 170 British children to distinguish colors. Scientists have measured how long the children look at the colored spots (viewing time). At first, each child repeatedly showed spots of the same color, while the time of examination did not decrease, which indicated the fatigue of the child with this color. Then the child was shown a spot of a different color and recorded his reaction. The increase in the viewing time was interpreted as a sign that the child perceives this color as new. The totality of the reactions of the children showed that they distinguish five colors: red, green, blue, purple and yellow.
The results “give reason to believe that we all work on the same pattern,” said Alice Skelton. “We are born already prepared to distinguish colors, but in terms of their culture and language, a particular person can use or not use certain distinctions.” In particular, children who learn Vietnamese language, most likely, distinguish between blue and green colors, although in their language they are denoted by the same word.
We begin to perceive and discern colors before we recognize the words that define them. This study is particularly interesting in the context of long-standing disputes about the role of nature and the environment in which the child grows, the perception of colors and Sapir-Whorf’s hypothesis that our worldview is shaped by language.
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