Color perception is language dependent

Research data

Scientists from the Humboldt University of Berlin argue that a person’s ability to perceive certain colors depends on the language he speaks.

In their work, scientists relied on the hypothesis of linguistic relativity, which states that language forms thinking. According to her, even learning a new language seriously changes consciousness.

The experiment involved 28 people who spoke Greek, 29 – in German, 47 – in Russian. In Greek and Russian, there are separate words for shades of blue: blue, blue, turquoise and others. And in German, there is only one definition of blue, and all other shades are designated as “light blue”.



Volunteers were shown 13 multicolored triangles on a colored background: blue against blue or light green against a dark green background. In one of the five cases, the background remained blank. Scientists wanted to know if participants could notice a trick.

Participants were asked to answer how many triangles they saw. It turned out that the Greek speakers had noticed almost all the triangles of blue shades, but could have missed the green. The same goes for Russian speakers. And the native speakers of German didn’t cause any difficulties either.


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