How Culture Affects Color Perception


If you ask a class of 3rd graders what color the sky is, most of them will tell you it's blue. According to scientists, colors aren’t always labeled the same to everyone. It depends on how you feel about it. At least, according to Zach Zorich.

A recent study shows that language and understanding of the world can be affected by your cultural environment. People living in English speaking countries see colors that the majority of people will describe the same. This is not the same for people in other countries, such as Amazonian hunter-gatherer groups. Colors are based on their environment and culture.

The Tsimane' live in the deep jungles of South America and their language is primarily developed within their own tribe and groups nearby. Their language has fewer words than the English language and also fewer words for colors. That's because it takes a long time to agree on what to call or label each color.

The colors we see aren’t different, it's the labeling of them. Also, the tribe doesn’t need to describe colors on a daily basis. They know how to distinguish "warm" colors, for example, orange and red. When it comes to "cool" colors, it’s harder for them. These people are seldom in positions where they need to tell the difference between a red cup and green cup. Their lifestyle is different from an average American.

The world is seen differently depending on the cultural environment or personal backgrounds of a person.

[Source: sciencemag.org]

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