ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (8): 1384-1393.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2019.01384

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The mechanism of color category perception: Effects of language

XIE Shushu1, ZHANG Jijia2()   

  1. 1 College of Teacher Education, Jimei University, Xiamen 361021, China
    2 Department of Psychology, Renmin University of China
  • Received:2018-11-15 Online:2019-07-26 Published:2019-06-25
  • Contact: ZHANG Jijia


Categorical perception (CP) effect indicates that people are faster and more accurately at discriminating between two colors from different categories than two colors from the same category, even when between- and within-category chromatic separation sizes are equated. CP effect is an important evidence for the controversy between Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and the Universal Evolution theory (UE). Some studies demonstrated that CP is language-driven. They found that CP is left-lateralized and is disrupted by verbal, but not by nonverbal interference task. Moreover, the language-driven CP also got support from the cross-language researches and neurophysiological studies. However, other studies proved the existence of bilateral CP effects and CP effect in pre-linguistic infants. In recent researches, there is a third perspective that CP effect results from both innate mechanism and language-driven mechanism. Evidences supporting language-driven CP, innate CP and the compromised viewpoint can be summarized to explore the mechanism of color CP and the effects of language. Further research should focus on the interaction between perception system and concept system.

Key words: color category perception, language-driven mechanism, Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, the Universal Evolution Theory

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