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Christopher Lau, Karen B. Schloss, Stephen E. Palmer; Color-Grapheme Associations in Non-Synesthetes: Evidence of Emotional Mediation. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):394. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/11.11.394.
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Previous research has shown that non-synesthetes have systematic associations between colors and graphemes (e.g., Simner et al., 2005; Rich et al., 2005; Spector & Maurer, 2008). In the present study we investigated whether color-grapheme associations might be mediated by the emotional associations of the graphemes and the colors. First, participants were presented with the 26 uppercase letters of the Latin-based alphabet and 10 Arabic numerals (Helvetica font), one at a time, beside an array of the 37 Berkeley Color Project (BCP) colors (Palmer & Schloss, 2010). Their task was to select the five colors that were most consistent with the grapheme presented, followed by the five colors that were least consistent (as in Schloss et al. (VSS-08) for color-music associations and Xu et al. (VSS-10) for color-face associations). Next, participants rated each of the colors and graphemes along the following emotional dimensions: happy/sad, strong/weak, active/passive, and good/evil. The emotional content of the graphemes was significantly correlated with the emotional content of the colors that were associated with the graphemes for the happy/sad, (r = 0.64), strong/weak (r = 0.52), active/passive (r = 0.46), and good/evil (r = 0.51) dimensions. Participants also rated the colors and graphemes along several visual dimensions that were more weakly associated: curvy/angular (r = 0.23), open/closed (r = 0.35), balanced/unbalanced (r = 0.20), spacious/cramped (r = 0.24), and simple/complex (r = 0.30). These results suggest that the associations between colors and graphemes in non-synesthetes might be mediated, in part, by underlying emotional associations.
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