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Rosa M. Poggesi, Karen B. Schloss, Stephen E. Palmer; Preference for three-color combinations in varying proportions. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):332. doi: 10.1167/9.8.332.
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Previous research on preference for color combinations investigated pairs of colors (Schloss & Palmer, VSS-07; Ou & Luo, 2006). The current project investigated preference for combinations of three colors in varying proportions. The full set of 37 colors included eight hues (red, orange, yellow, chartreuse, green, cyan, blue and purple) at four saturation/lightness cuts through color space (high-saturation, medium-saturation, light, and dark), as well as five grays. In Experiment 1, displays were 45·-rotated checkerboards whose two colors were always adjacent high-saturation hues. When a third color of any of the remaining six hues was present, it formed squares of three different sizes (large, medium, small) at the intersections of the checkerboard. There were also control displays with no checkerboard. Observers rated their preferences for each display. Later they also rated their preferences for the individual colors in isolation. The results showed that displays containing no third color were most preferred, and preference decreased as the area of the third color increased (p [[lt]].05). When the third color was present, the display was most preferred when the third color was closest in hue to the other two colors, consistent with prior studies of color harmony (Schloss & Palmer, VSS-07). A regression model accounted for 62% of the variance with the following predictors: size of the third color square, average preference for the two individual checkerboard colors, distance in hue between the third color and the checkerboard colors, and redness/greenness of the checkerboard colors. Further experiments examined cases in which adding the third color increased the harmony of the two-color combination, and in which combinations of colors in other cuts of the color space were investigated.
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