Our world is a colorful place.
Learning to name the colors of the rainbow is a part of very early childhood education, and we’re often led to believe that these colors—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple— are universal. But does learning color names in our own native tongue affect the variety of colors we’re able to see? Recent research suggests the answer is ‘yes’.
In a study published by the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, researchers found that Himba children, an indigenous tribe from Namibia which lacks names for certain shades of green and blue were essentially “blind” to those colors, while English-speaking children who were taught distinct names for those colors were able to recognize them when asked.
“This experiment challenges the notion that color categories are absolute, and instead suggests that our perception of color is a social phenomenon — it’s influenced by categories that are arbitrarily imposed on us by the language we speak,” explains the Transparent Language blog.
Check out this video to watch the Himba experiment in action, and scroll through the infographic below to learn more about how language affects our perception of colors.
Photo Credit: Behr Paint