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Stephen E. Palmer, Karen B. Schloss, Mathilde Heinemann; Semantic Effects on Aesthetic Preference for Color Harmony in Visual Displays. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):71. doi: 10.1167/12.9.71.
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Schloss and Palmer (2011) previously showed that people generally like harmonious color combinations consisting of colors that have the same or similar hue but differ in lightness in simple figure-ground displays (e.g., a light-blue square on a dark-blue square background). Are such preferences fixed or can they be altered by context due to different spatial/textural structure and/or different semantic features. Participants were shown visual displays that differed in the degree of harmony of the two component hues and the degree of harmony in the structure of the spatial array. They were shown pairs of displays and asked to indicate which they preferred. The semantic context was varied toward harmony or disharmony by presenting them as backgrounds for posters whose text was "Unity" or "Peace" versus "Chaos" or "Friction" in Experiment 1, and as album covers for new musical groups of the same names in Experiment 2. The results showed that preferences are indeed influenced by the meaning of the image. People liked harmonious color combinations more than disharmonious ones in harmonious contexts, but this difference disappeared in disharmonious contexts. This pattern of results is consistent with a general bias toward preferring harmonious color combinations that is modulated toward more harmony in harmonious contexts and toward less harmony in disharmonious contexts. Individual differences in preference for harmony (Griscom & Palmer VSS-2011) also influence the results.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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