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Proceedings Paper

Human color perception, cognition, and culture: why red is always red
Author(s): Timothy D. King
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Paper Abstract

Though an incredible range of colors are perceptible to the human eye, there has been a notable tendency across human cultures to make similar classifications and identifications of colors, with some interesting exceptions. Among societies that only have three basic color terms (such as in New Guinea): “light, dark, and red” appear to be the universal distinctions employed by these societies with simple color systems (if a fourth distinction is made, the new addition will universally be “yellow” or “green/blue”; a fifth distinction will provide the alternate of the fourth; a sixth distinction will separate “blue” and “green,” etc.). Such patterns in human color definition can be understood at biological, evolutionary, and cultural levels. This presentation will review some current understandings about the relationship between human biology, evolutionary history, and the nature of color in both modern and prehistoric human culture – to highlight the biological reasons why some colors and color distinctions are more significant than others, at a universal (pan-human) level.

Paper Details

Date Published: 17 January 2005
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 5667, Color Imaging X: Processing, Hardcopy, and Applications, (17 January 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.597146
Show Author Affiliations
Timothy D. King, Stanford Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5667:
Color Imaging X: Processing, Hardcopy, and Applications
Reiner Eschbach; Gabriel G. Marcu, Editor(s)

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