Many factors impact an individual’s color perception, so not all humans see color the same way. Read more about how humans see color and what can affect the ways that we perceive color.

How Humans See Color

When light hits an object, the item absorbs some light and reflects the rest. This reflected light penetrates the human eye and the lens focuses it into the retina. The retina has cones and rods that process the light into nerve impulses. This transmits a signal to the brain, resulting in seeing a color. Color is powerful, even influencing how we see certain businesses because of their branding styles.

Objects do not have an inherent color — we perceive the reflected color that the object’s surface does not absorb. A red delicious apple isn’t really red because the apple reflects the wavelengths we perceive as red and absorbs the rest. When all the wavelengths are reflected, the object appears white. When the object’s surface absorbs all the wavelengths, the object appears black.

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Factors That Can Affect Color Perception

Here are several aspects that can affect the ways we perceive color:

  • Lighting: The color of the light will determine the color your brain sees. If you look at a red cup under fluorescent lighting versus natural lighting, the red shade may look different in each environment.
  • Age: Eye muscles lose their strength with age, so as you get older, your eyes are less responsive to lighting changes. The retinal cells in older people are less sensitive, impairing their ability to see color contrasts.
  • Color memory: Memory affects a person’s ability to see colors, and time and distance also negatively impact color memory. It would be difficult to match a green bracelet to your green sweater at home because the memory of your sweater will not accurately portray its color.
  • Background: The background of the object you’re evaluating will affect your ability to perceive the object’s color. This phenomenon is called simultaneous contrast.
  • Mood: Your mood may impact your perception of colors. A person who feels sad may have more trouble identifying colors on the blue-yellow spectrum than a person who feels happy. There is a link between depression and a decreased retina response, and the dopamine neurotransmitter affects color perception.
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Contact HunterLab Today

At HunterLab, we go beyond the human eye for precise color measurement and appearance to ensure quality. For more information about color measurement, contact HunterLab online. You can also read our blog for informative posts about color perception and more.