September 2011
Volume 11, Issue 11
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2011
Preference Asymmetries in Color Pairs: Retinal vs. Perceived Size
Author Affiliations
  • Karen B. Schloss
    University of California, Berkeley, USA
  • Stephen E. Palmer
    University of California, Berkeley, USA
Journal of Vision September 2011, Vol.11, 388. doi:
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      Karen B. Schloss, Stephen E. Palmer; Preference Asymmetries in Color Pairs: Retinal vs. Perceived Size. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):388. doi:

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Does spatial organization influence preference for color pairs? We report evidence for systematic preference asymmetries, in which participants preferred two-color figure-ground displays (a small square centered on a large square) when the color of the larger region was bluer, darker, and more preferred than that of the smaller region. Results were similar for color pairs in mosaic configurations (side-by-side, separated by a gap), showing that surroundedness is not essential for preference asymmetries to arise. We clarified the nature of the relative size effect by testing the predictions of two competing hypotheses. The retinal size hypothesis posits the dominant factor to be the relative retinal area of the figure and ground regions, whereas the perceived size hypothesis posits it to be the relative area after the ground has been amodally completed behind the figure. We measured preference asymmetries for displays in which the figure's area was smaller than (40%), equal to (50%) or larger than (60%) the retinal area of the ground to find out whether preference asymmetries would reverse when the figure's area was larger than that of the ground, as predicted by the retinal-size hypothesis. Instead, participants preferred pairs with yellower figures on bluer grounds in all three conditions, with positive correlations between the difference in blueness between the ground and figure colors for the 40% (r = +0.63), 50% (r = +0.58), and 60% (r = +0.33) configurations. Consistent with the perceived size hypothesis, the blue-yellow effect decreased as the area of the figure approached the area of the amodally-completed ground, without reversing. The same pattern was present for the difference in lightness (darker ground preferred) and in single-color preference between the ground and the figure colors. Accordingly, aesthetic judgments of color pairs depend on the relative areas of amodally-completed regions rather than on the relative areas that are visible in the configuration.

National Science Foundation Grant BCS-0745820. 

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