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Advances in Psychological Science    2012, Vol. 20 Issue (7) : 949-962     DOI:
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Interactive Theory of Color Cognition and Its Evidence
ZHANG Ji-Jia;FANG Yan-Hong;XIE Shu-Shu
(1 Center for Psychological Application, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China)
(2 College of Education, Jinggangshan College, Jian 343009, China)
(3 Teacher Education College, Jimei University, Xiamen 361021, China)
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Abstract  Color cognition is always the key topic of the debate of Linguistic Universalism and Linguistic Relativity. Because of the same structure of human eyes, and the similar sense to spectrum, General theory of evolution, which supports the view of Linguistic Universalism, claims that color cognition is not affected by language and mutually independent of color words, whereas Language relevance hypothesis, which is the main hypothesis about Linguistic Relativity, argued that color cognition can be affected by color words. Although both General theory of evolution and Language relevance hypothesis have their own evidence, the two theories also have disadvantages. Thus, a compromised view became to be popular in the relation of color words and color cognition. Recent studies about this topic of Chinese research showed that color cognition is a jointed result of physical, physiological, cognitive, intelligent, linguistic and culture which have a relationship of interactive and compensation. Evidence came from research about the regular Han nationality, individuals who are blind, mentally handicapped, or deaf, and individuals of other nationalities in China. In this paper, an Interactive theory of six factors was proposed to solve the recent argument of Linguistic Universalism and Linguistic Relativity. In this theory, six factors are divided into three hierarchies: (1) physical-biological level. In this level, color cognition is mainly affected by physical properties of colors and biological properties of human eyes; (2) cognitive-intelligent level. Cognition, including perception, memory, thoughts, and intelligence are involved in this level. (3) social-cultural level. Color cognition can be affected by cultures of colors, such as color preference. Interactions among three hierarchies including six factors determine how people cognize colors. In addition, influence of language can be found in both cognitive-intelligent level and social-cultural level. In short, color cognition is a complicated psychological phenomenon which includes multi-factors and multi-levels. It is integrated by objectives and subjective, perception and conception, universality and individuality, humanity and national characters. No levels or factors should be ignored.
Keywords color      color words      interactive theory     
Corresponding Authors: ZHANG Ji-Jia   
Issue Date: 15 July 2012
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ZHANG Ji-Jia,FANG Yan-Hong,XIE Shu-Shu. Interactive Theory of Color Cognition and Its Evidence[J]. Advances in Psychological Science, 2012, 20(7): 949-962.
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