Abstract

Red, green, blue, yellow, and white have been distinguished from other hues as unique. We present results from two experiments that undermine existing behavioral evidence to separate the unique hues from other colors. In Experiment 1 we used hue scaling, which has often been used to support the existence of unique hues, but has never been attempted with a set of non-unique primaries. Subjects were assigned to one of two experimental conditions. In the “unique” condition, they rated the proportions of red, yellow, blue, and green that they perceived in each of a series of test stimuli. In the “intermediate” condition, they rated the proportions of teal, purple, orange, and lime. We found, surprisingly, that results from the two conditions were largely equivalent. In Experiment 2, we investigated the effect of instruction on subjects’ settings of unique hues. We found that altering the color terms given in the instructions to include intermediate hues led to significant shifts in the hue that subjects identified as unique. The results of both experiments question subjects’ abilities to identify certain hues as unique.

© 2014 Optical Society of America

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