Color naming, lens aging, and grue: What the optics of the aging eye can teach us about color language

Joseph L. Hardy, Christina M. Frederick, Paul Kay, John S Werner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations

Abstract

Many languages without separate terms for green and blue are or were spoken in locations receiving above-average exposure to ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation. It has been proposed that this correlation is caused by premature lens aging. This conclusion was supported by an experiment in which younger observers used the term "blue" less often when they described simulated paint chips filtered through the equivalent of an older observer's lens - removing much short-wavelength light - than when they described the unfiltered versions of the same paint chips. Some stimuli that were called "blue" without simulated aging were called "green" when filtered. However, in the experiment reported here, we found that the proportion of "blue" color-name responses did not differ between younger subjects and older observers with known ocular media optical densities. Color naming for stimuli that were nominally green, blue-green, or blue was virtually identical for older and younger observers who viewed the same (unfiltered) stimuli. Our results are inconsistent with the lens-brunescence hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-327
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Science
Volume16
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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