Rosch, Eleanor.
The Nature of Mental Codes for Color Categories
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance 1. 4 (1975 Nov): 303-322.


Used the technique of priming to study the nature of the mental representations generated by color names. The logic of the technique is that a prime can only facilitate a response if it contains some of the information needed for the response. The name of a basic color category, in primed trials, and the word blank, in unprimed trials, were presented to Subjects in advance of a pair of colors. 6 experiments were conducted, employing a total of 190 undergraduates. In Exps I and III, it was found that for responses of same to physically identical colors, a prime presented 2 sec in advance of a color pair facilitated responses to good and inhibited responses to poor members of basic color categories. In other experiments the amount of practice and the interval of time between the prime and presentation of the stimulus were varied. It is concluded that the cognitive representation of color categories contains information used in encoding physical color stimuli and that the representation reflects the prototype structure of color categories.


Mervis, Carolyn B.; Catlin, Jack; Rosch, Eleanor.
Development of the Structure of Color Categories
Developmental Psychology 11. 1 (1975 Jan): 54-60.


Previous investigators have argued that basic color categories are structured in terms of a universal focal area with varying boundaries. In the present study 2 developmental implications were investiaged: (a) that foci for color categories become established and are stabilized earlier than boundaries and (b) that focal judgments are always more stable than boundary judgments. A total of 20 kindergartners, 40 3rd graders, and 40 adults served in 3 color designation experiments modeled after those of B. Berlin and P. Kay (1969). Means and variances of focal and boundary judgments for the 8 basic chromatic terms were determined for the 3 groups. In general, both hypotheses were supported.


Rosch, Eleanor H.
Natural Categories
Cognitive Psychology 4. 3 (1973 May): 328-350.


Tested the hypotheses that the domains of color and form are structured into nonarbitrary, semantic categories which develop around perceptually salient "natural prototypes." Categories which reflected such an organization (where the presumed natural prototypes were central tendencies of the categories) and categories which violated the organization (natural prototypes peripheral) were taught to a total of 162 members of a Stone Age culture which did not initially have hue or geometric-form concepts. In both domains, the presumed "natural" categories were consistently easier to learn than the "distorted" categories. Even when not central, natural prototype stimuli tended to be more rapidly learned and more often chosen as the most typical example of the category than were other stimuli. Implications for general differences between natural categories and the artificial categories of concept formation research are discussed.




Maintained by Francis F. Steen, Communication Studies, University of California Los Angeles