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Is color an intrinsic property of object representation?

journal contribution
posted on 01.01.2003, 00:00 by Galit Naor-Raz, Michael J. Tarr, Daniel Kersten

The role of color in object representation was examined by using a variation of the Stroop paradigm in which observers named the displayed colors of objects or words. In experiment 1, colors of color-diagnostic objects were manipulated to be either typical or atypical of the object (eg a yellow banana versus a purple banana). A Stroop-like effect was obtained, with faster color-naming times for the typical as compared to the atypical condition. In experiment 2, naming colors on words specifying these same color-diagnostic objects reversed this pattern, with the typical condition producing longer response times than the atypical condition. In experiment 3, a blocked condition design that used the same words and colors as experiment 2 produced the standard Stroop-like facilitation for the typical condition. These results indicate that color is an intrinsic property of an object's representation at multiple levels. In experiment 4, we examined the specific level(s) at which color-shape associations arise by following the tasks used in experiments 1 and 2 with a lexical-decision task in which some items were conceptually related to items shown during color naming (eg banana/monkey). Priming for these associates was observed following color naming of words, but not pictures, providing further evidence that the color-shape associations responsible for the differing effects obtained in experiments 1 and 2 are due to the automatic activation of color-shape associations at different levels of representation.