Abstract

The principle that things are easier to find if they contrast with their environment is expressed quantitatively. Two indices of conspicuousness, relative fixation rate and search time, are shown to be related to the color difference between the target and background objects. The color difference equations used are CIELAB, CIELUV, and the Judd modification of the index of fading. None of the equations is superior to the others. Furthermore, neither Judd’s modification nor Semmelroth’s adjustment accounts for effects of surround lightness. It is suggested that color difference be used as a tool for design and evaluation of visual displays, for construction of color codes to optimize search time, and as a generalization of achromatic contrast in psychophysical research.

© 1981 Optical Society of America

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  1. W. D. Hitt, "An evaluation of five different abstract coding methods—experiment IV," Hum. Factors 3,120–130 (1961).
  2. S. L. Smith, "Color coding and visual search," J. Exp. Psychol. 64, 434–440 (1962).
  3. C. W. Eriksen, "Location of objects in a visual display as a function of the number of dimensions on which the objects differ," J. Exp. Psychol. 44, 56–60 (1952).
  4. L. G. Williams, "The effect of target specification on objects fixated during visual search," Percept. Psychophys. 1, 315–318 (1966).
  5. L. G. Williams, "A study of visual search using eye movement recordings," Honeywell doc. 12009-IR (Honeywell Systems and Research Center, Minneapolis, Minn., 1967).
  6. R. Held, "Two modes of processing spatially distributed visual stimulation," in The Neurosciences: Second Study Program, F. Schmidt, ed. (Rockefeller U. Press. New York, 1970).
  7. H. W. Leibowitz and R. B. Post, "The two modes of processing concept and some implications," in Organization and Representation in Perception, J. J. Beck, ed. (Erlbaum, Hillsdale, N.J., 1981).
  8. B. Howland, A. Ginsburg, and F. Campbell, "High-pass spatial frequency letters as clinical optotypes," Vision Res. 18, 1063–1066 (1978).
  9. G. L. Walls, "Factors in human visual resolution," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 33, 487–404 (1943).
  10. F. L. Engel, "Visual conspicuity, visual search and fixation tendencies of the eye," Vision Res. 17, 95–108 (1977).
  11. J. R. Bloomfield, "Visual search in complex fields: size differences between target disc and surrounding discs," Hum. Factors 14, 139–148 (1972).
  12. L. G. Williams, "Studies of extrafoveal discrimination and detection," in Visual Search (National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C. 1973).
  13. L. G. Williams, A Study of Image Enhancement Using Eye Movement Measurement, Honeywell Rep. no. 12540-FRI, 1966 (Honeywell Systems and Research Center, Minneapolis, Minn., unpublished).
  14. D. B. Judd and G. T. Yonemura, "Target conspicuity and its dependence on color and angular subtense for gray and foliage green surrounds," prelim. rep. 10-120, National Bureau of Standards (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1969).
  15. C. J. Bartleson, "Introduction," in Optical Radiation Measurements, Vol. 2, Color Measurement, F. Grum and C. Bartelson, eds. (Academic, New York, 1980).
  16. D. B. Judd and G. Wyszecki, Color in Business, Science, and Industry (Wiley, New York, 1975).
  17. A. Robertson, "The CIE 1976 color-difference formulae," Color Res. Appl. 2, 7–11 (1977).
  18. R. C. Carter, Visual Search with Color (The Pennsylvania State University, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, 1979).
  19. B. F. Green and L. K. Anderson, "Color coding in a visual search task," J. Exp. Psychol. 51, 19–24 (1956).
  20. K. L. Kelly, "Color designations for lights,". J. Opt. Soc. Am. 33, 627–632 (1943).
  21. I. H. Godlove, "Improved color-difference formula, with applications to the perceptibility and acceptability of fadings," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 41, 760–772 (1951).
  22. G. Wyszecki and W. S. Stiles, Color Science: Concepts and Methods, Qualitative Data and Formulae (Wiley, New York, 1967).
  23. B. J. Winer, Statistical Principles in Experimental Design (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1971).
  24. N. Draper and H. Smith, Applied Regression Analysis (Wiley, New York, 1966).
  25. R. N. Shepard, "The analysis of proximities: multi-dimensional scaling with an unknown distance function. II," Psychometrika 27, 219–246 (1962).
  26. E. G. Heinemann, "Simultaneous brightness induction," in Handbook of Sensory Physiology, D. Jameson and L. Hurvich, eds. (Springer-Verlag, New York, 1972), Vol. VII/4.
  27. H. Takasaki, "Lightness change of grays induced by change in reflectance of gray background," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 56, 504–509 (1966).
  28. C. C. Semmelroth, "Prediction of lightness and brightness on different backgrounds," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 60, 1685–1689 (1970).
  29. Adjustment of the Munsell-value and W scale to uniform lightness steps for various background reflectness Appl. Opt. 10, 14–18 (1971).
  30. A. S. Stenius, "Study in black: the CIELAB and CIELUV L* E. C. Carter and R. C. Carter function for very low values of Y," Color Res. Appl. 3, 109–113 (1978).
  31. K. L. Kelly, "Twenty-two colors of maximum contrast," Color Eng. 3, 26–27 (1965).
  32. L. M. Biberman, ed., Perception of Displayed Information (Plenum, New York, 1973).
  33. 33, H. R. Blackwell, "Contrast thresholds of the human eye," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 36, 624–714 (1946).
  34. G. Westheimer, "Visual acuity and spatial modulation thresholds," in Handbook of Sensory Physiology, D. Jameson and L. Hurvich, eds. (Springer-Verlag, New York, 1972), Vol. VII/4.
  35. H. L. Snyder, Visual Search and Image Quality: Final Report (Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va., 1976).
  36. D. B. Judd and A. A. Eastman, "Prediction of target visibility from the colors of target and surround," Illum. Eng. 66, 256–266 (1971).
  37. F. S. Frome, S. L. Buck, and R. M. Boynton, "Visibility of borders: separate and combined effects of color differences, luminance contrast, and luminance level," J. Opt. Soe. Am. 71, 145–150 (1981).

1981 (1)

F. S. Frome, S. L. Buck, and R. M. Boynton, "Visibility of borders: separate and combined effects of color differences, luminance contrast, and luminance level," J. Opt. Soe. Am. 71, 145–150 (1981).

1978 (2)

A. S. Stenius, "Study in black: the CIELAB and CIELUV L* E. C. Carter and R. C. Carter function for very low values of Y," Color Res. Appl. 3, 109–113 (1978).

B. Howland, A. Ginsburg, and F. Campbell, "High-pass spatial frequency letters as clinical optotypes," Vision Res. 18, 1063–1066 (1978).

1977 (2)

F. L. Engel, "Visual conspicuity, visual search and fixation tendencies of the eye," Vision Res. 17, 95–108 (1977).

A. Robertson, "The CIE 1976 color-difference formulae," Color Res. Appl. 2, 7–11 (1977).

1972 (1)

J. R. Bloomfield, "Visual search in complex fields: size differences between target disc and surrounding discs," Hum. Factors 14, 139–148 (1972).

1971 (2)

D. B. Judd and A. A. Eastman, "Prediction of target visibility from the colors of target and surround," Illum. Eng. 66, 256–266 (1971).

Adjustment of the Munsell-value and W scale to uniform lightness steps for various background reflectness Appl. Opt. 10, 14–18 (1971).

1970 (1)

1966 (2)

H. Takasaki, "Lightness change of grays induced by change in reflectance of gray background," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 56, 504–509 (1966).

L. G. Williams, "The effect of target specification on objects fixated during visual search," Percept. Psychophys. 1, 315–318 (1966).

1965 (1)

K. L. Kelly, "Twenty-two colors of maximum contrast," Color Eng. 3, 26–27 (1965).

1962 (2)

R. N. Shepard, "The analysis of proximities: multi-dimensional scaling with an unknown distance function. II," Psychometrika 27, 219–246 (1962).

S. L. Smith, "Color coding and visual search," J. Exp. Psychol. 64, 434–440 (1962).

1961 (1)

W. D. Hitt, "An evaluation of five different abstract coding methods—experiment IV," Hum. Factors 3,120–130 (1961).

1956 (1)

B. F. Green and L. K. Anderson, "Color coding in a visual search task," J. Exp. Psychol. 51, 19–24 (1956).

1952 (1)

C. W. Eriksen, "Location of objects in a visual display as a function of the number of dimensions on which the objects differ," J. Exp. Psychol. 44, 56–60 (1952).

1951 (1)

1946 (1)

1943 (2)

G. L. Walls, "Factors in human visual resolution," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 33, 487–404 (1943).

K. L. Kelly, "Color designations for lights,". J. Opt. Soc. Am. 33, 627–632 (1943).

Anderson, L. K.

B. F. Green and L. K. Anderson, "Color coding in a visual search task," J. Exp. Psychol. 51, 19–24 (1956).

Bartleson, C. J.

C. J. Bartleson, "Introduction," in Optical Radiation Measurements, Vol. 2, Color Measurement, F. Grum and C. Bartelson, eds. (Academic, New York, 1980).

Blackwell, H. R.

Bloomfield, J. R.

J. R. Bloomfield, "Visual search in complex fields: size differences between target disc and surrounding discs," Hum. Factors 14, 139–148 (1972).

Boynton, R. M.

F. S. Frome, S. L. Buck, and R. M. Boynton, "Visibility of borders: separate and combined effects of color differences, luminance contrast, and luminance level," J. Opt. Soe. Am. 71, 145–150 (1981).

Buck, S. L.

F. S. Frome, S. L. Buck, and R. M. Boynton, "Visibility of borders: separate and combined effects of color differences, luminance contrast, and luminance level," J. Opt. Soe. Am. 71, 145–150 (1981).

Campbell, F.

B. Howland, A. Ginsburg, and F. Campbell, "High-pass spatial frequency letters as clinical optotypes," Vision Res. 18, 1063–1066 (1978).

Carter, R. C.

R. C. Carter, Visual Search with Color (The Pennsylvania State University, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, 1979).

Draper, N.

N. Draper and H. Smith, Applied Regression Analysis (Wiley, New York, 1966).

Eastman, A. A.

D. B. Judd and A. A. Eastman, "Prediction of target visibility from the colors of target and surround," Illum. Eng. 66, 256–266 (1971).

Engel, F. L.

F. L. Engel, "Visual conspicuity, visual search and fixation tendencies of the eye," Vision Res. 17, 95–108 (1977).

Eriksen, C. W.

C. W. Eriksen, "Location of objects in a visual display as a function of the number of dimensions on which the objects differ," J. Exp. Psychol. 44, 56–60 (1952).

Frome, F. S.

F. S. Frome, S. L. Buck, and R. M. Boynton, "Visibility of borders: separate and combined effects of color differences, luminance contrast, and luminance level," J. Opt. Soe. Am. 71, 145–150 (1981).

Ginsburg, A.

B. Howland, A. Ginsburg, and F. Campbell, "High-pass spatial frequency letters as clinical optotypes," Vision Res. 18, 1063–1066 (1978).

Godlove, I. H.

Green, B. F.

B. F. Green and L. K. Anderson, "Color coding in a visual search task," J. Exp. Psychol. 51, 19–24 (1956).

Heinemann, E. G.

E. G. Heinemann, "Simultaneous brightness induction," in Handbook of Sensory Physiology, D. Jameson and L. Hurvich, eds. (Springer-Verlag, New York, 1972), Vol. VII/4.

Held, R.

R. Held, "Two modes of processing spatially distributed visual stimulation," in The Neurosciences: Second Study Program, F. Schmidt, ed. (Rockefeller U. Press. New York, 1970).

Hitt, W. D.

W. D. Hitt, "An evaluation of five different abstract coding methods—experiment IV," Hum. Factors 3,120–130 (1961).

Howland, B.

B. Howland, A. Ginsburg, and F. Campbell, "High-pass spatial frequency letters as clinical optotypes," Vision Res. 18, 1063–1066 (1978).

Judd, D. B.

D. B. Judd and A. A. Eastman, "Prediction of target visibility from the colors of target and surround," Illum. Eng. 66, 256–266 (1971).

D. B. Judd and G. Wyszecki, Color in Business, Science, and Industry (Wiley, New York, 1975).

D. B. Judd and G. T. Yonemura, "Target conspicuity and its dependence on color and angular subtense for gray and foliage green surrounds," prelim. rep. 10-120, National Bureau of Standards (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1969).

Kelly, K. L.

K. L. Kelly, "Twenty-two colors of maximum contrast," Color Eng. 3, 26–27 (1965).

K. L. Kelly, "Color designations for lights,". J. Opt. Soc. Am. 33, 627–632 (1943).

Leibowitz, H. W.

H. W. Leibowitz and R. B. Post, "The two modes of processing concept and some implications," in Organization and Representation in Perception, J. J. Beck, ed. (Erlbaum, Hillsdale, N.J., 1981).

Post, R. B.

H. W. Leibowitz and R. B. Post, "The two modes of processing concept and some implications," in Organization and Representation in Perception, J. J. Beck, ed. (Erlbaum, Hillsdale, N.J., 1981).

Robertson, A.

A. Robertson, "The CIE 1976 color-difference formulae," Color Res. Appl. 2, 7–11 (1977).

Semmelrotb, C. C.

Semmelroth, C. C.

Shepard, R. N.

R. N. Shepard, "The analysis of proximities: multi-dimensional scaling with an unknown distance function. II," Psychometrika 27, 219–246 (1962).

Smith, H.

N. Draper and H. Smith, Applied Regression Analysis (Wiley, New York, 1966).

Smith, S. L.

S. L. Smith, "Color coding and visual search," J. Exp. Psychol. 64, 434–440 (1962).

Snyder, H. L.

H. L. Snyder, Visual Search and Image Quality: Final Report (Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va., 1976).

Stenius, A. S.

A. S. Stenius, "Study in black: the CIELAB and CIELUV L* E. C. Carter and R. C. Carter function for very low values of Y," Color Res. Appl. 3, 109–113 (1978).

Stiles, W. S.

G. Wyszecki and W. S. Stiles, Color Science: Concepts and Methods, Qualitative Data and Formulae (Wiley, New York, 1967).

Takasaki, H.

Walls, G. L.

Westheimer, G.

G. Westheimer, "Visual acuity and spatial modulation thresholds," in Handbook of Sensory Physiology, D. Jameson and L. Hurvich, eds. (Springer-Verlag, New York, 1972), Vol. VII/4.

Williams, L. G.

L. G. Williams, "The effect of target specification on objects fixated during visual search," Percept. Psychophys. 1, 315–318 (1966).

L. G. Williams, "Studies of extrafoveal discrimination and detection," in Visual Search (National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C. 1973).

L. G. Williams, A Study of Image Enhancement Using Eye Movement Measurement, Honeywell Rep. no. 12540-FRI, 1966 (Honeywell Systems and Research Center, Minneapolis, Minn., unpublished).

L. G. Williams, "A study of visual search using eye movement recordings," Honeywell doc. 12009-IR (Honeywell Systems and Research Center, Minneapolis, Minn., 1967).

Winer, B. J.

B. J. Winer, Statistical Principles in Experimental Design (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1971).

Wyszecki, G.

D. B. Judd and G. Wyszecki, Color in Business, Science, and Industry (Wiley, New York, 1975).

G. Wyszecki and W. S. Stiles, Color Science: Concepts and Methods, Qualitative Data and Formulae (Wiley, New York, 1967).

Yonemura, G. T.

D. B. Judd and G. T. Yonemura, "Target conspicuity and its dependence on color and angular subtense for gray and foliage green surrounds," prelim. rep. 10-120, National Bureau of Standards (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1969).

. J. Opt. Soc. Am. (1)

K. L. Kelly, "Color designations for lights,". J. Opt. Soc. Am. 33, 627–632 (1943).

Appl. Opt. (1)

Color Eng. (1)

K. L. Kelly, "Twenty-two colors of maximum contrast," Color Eng. 3, 26–27 (1965).

Color Res. Appl. (2)

A. S. Stenius, "Study in black: the CIELAB and CIELUV L* E. C. Carter and R. C. Carter function for very low values of Y," Color Res. Appl. 3, 109–113 (1978).

A. Robertson, "The CIE 1976 color-difference formulae," Color Res. Appl. 2, 7–11 (1977).

Hum. Factors (2)

W. D. Hitt, "An evaluation of five different abstract coding methods—experiment IV," Hum. Factors 3,120–130 (1961).

J. R. Bloomfield, "Visual search in complex fields: size differences between target disc and surrounding discs," Hum. Factors 14, 139–148 (1972).

Illum. Eng. (1)

D. B. Judd and A. A. Eastman, "Prediction of target visibility from the colors of target and surround," Illum. Eng. 66, 256–266 (1971).

J. Exp. Psychol. (3)

B. F. Green and L. K. Anderson, "Color coding in a visual search task," J. Exp. Psychol. 51, 19–24 (1956).

S. L. Smith, "Color coding and visual search," J. Exp. Psychol. 64, 434–440 (1962).

C. W. Eriksen, "Location of objects in a visual display as a function of the number of dimensions on which the objects differ," J. Exp. Psychol. 44, 56–60 (1952).

J. Opt. Soc. Am. (5)

J. Opt. Soe. Am. (1)

F. S. Frome, S. L. Buck, and R. M. Boynton, "Visibility of borders: separate and combined effects of color differences, luminance contrast, and luminance level," J. Opt. Soe. Am. 71, 145–150 (1981).

Percept. Psychophys. (1)

L. G. Williams, "The effect of target specification on objects fixated during visual search," Percept. Psychophys. 1, 315–318 (1966).

Psychometrika (1)

R. N. Shepard, "The analysis of proximities: multi-dimensional scaling with an unknown distance function. II," Psychometrika 27, 219–246 (1962).

Vision Res. (2)

B. Howland, A. Ginsburg, and F. Campbell, "High-pass spatial frequency letters as clinical optotypes," Vision Res. 18, 1063–1066 (1978).

F. L. Engel, "Visual conspicuity, visual search and fixation tendencies of the eye," Vision Res. 17, 95–108 (1977).

Other (16)

R. C. Carter, Visual Search with Color (The Pennsylvania State University, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, 1979).

G. Wyszecki and W. S. Stiles, Color Science: Concepts and Methods, Qualitative Data and Formulae (Wiley, New York, 1967).

B. J. Winer, Statistical Principles in Experimental Design (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1971).

N. Draper and H. Smith, Applied Regression Analysis (Wiley, New York, 1966).

L. G. Williams, "A study of visual search using eye movement recordings," Honeywell doc. 12009-IR (Honeywell Systems and Research Center, Minneapolis, Minn., 1967).

R. Held, "Two modes of processing spatially distributed visual stimulation," in The Neurosciences: Second Study Program, F. Schmidt, ed. (Rockefeller U. Press. New York, 1970).

H. W. Leibowitz and R. B. Post, "The two modes of processing concept and some implications," in Organization and Representation in Perception, J. J. Beck, ed. (Erlbaum, Hillsdale, N.J., 1981).

L. G. Williams, "Studies of extrafoveal discrimination and detection," in Visual Search (National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C. 1973).

L. G. Williams, A Study of Image Enhancement Using Eye Movement Measurement, Honeywell Rep. no. 12540-FRI, 1966 (Honeywell Systems and Research Center, Minneapolis, Minn., unpublished).

D. B. Judd and G. T. Yonemura, "Target conspicuity and its dependence on color and angular subtense for gray and foliage green surrounds," prelim. rep. 10-120, National Bureau of Standards (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1969).

C. J. Bartleson, "Introduction," in Optical Radiation Measurements, Vol. 2, Color Measurement, F. Grum and C. Bartelson, eds. (Academic, New York, 1980).

D. B. Judd and G. Wyszecki, Color in Business, Science, and Industry (Wiley, New York, 1975).

E. G. Heinemann, "Simultaneous brightness induction," in Handbook of Sensory Physiology, D. Jameson and L. Hurvich, eds. (Springer-Verlag, New York, 1972), Vol. VII/4.

L. M. Biberman, ed., Perception of Displayed Information (Plenum, New York, 1973).

G. Westheimer, "Visual acuity and spatial modulation thresholds," in Handbook of Sensory Physiology, D. Jameson and L. Hurvich, eds. (Springer-Verlag, New York, 1972), Vol. VII/4.

H. L. Snyder, Visual Search and Image Quality: Final Report (Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va., 1976).

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