Two psychophysical experiments were conducted to analyze the role of color attributes in simple tasks involving color matching and discrimination. In Experiment I observers made color matches using three different adjustment control methods. The results showed that the Lightness, Chroma, Hue (LCH) and the Lightness, redness/greenness, blueness/yellowness ({L, r/g, y/b}) adjustment controls elicited significantly better performance than the display RGB controls in terms of both accuracy and time, but were not significantly different from each other. Expert observers performed significantly better than naive observers in terms of accuracy. Experiment II was a replication and extension of Melgosa, et al.’s experiment in which observers judged differences and similarities for color attributes in pairs of colored patches. At a 95% confidence level, the results from judging difference were significantly better than those from judging similarity. Hue and Lightness were significantly more identifiable than Chroma, r/g, and y/b. For all observers, lightness differences were more easily detected for less chromatic pairs than for higher chromatic ones. With respect to the size of the color differences, it was found that larger hue differences were more easily identifiable than smaller ones. Experts could more readily identify constant lightness and chroma for large color differences while constant hue was more identifiable for small color differences. There were no significant differences found between males and females. These results indicate that people do not have ready access to the lower level color descriptors such as the common attributes used to define color spaces and that higher level psychological processing involving cognition and language may be necessary for even apparently simple tasks involving color matching and describing color differences.

Publication Date



A revised version of this paper will appear in Color Research and Application, Vol. 31, no. 6. Copyright © 2004 by The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. All Rights Reserved. With the exception of material authored by government employees working in an official capacity, copyright for all material published in Journal of Vision is assigned to the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). Users may view, reproduce or store copies of articles comprising the journal provided that the articles are used only for their personal, non-commercial use. Uses beyond that allowed by the "Fair Use" limitations (sections 107 and 108) of the U.S. Copyright law require permission which must be obtained in writing from the Journal of Vision Editorial Office (see contact information below). Any uses and or copies of Journal of Vision articles, either in whole or in part, must include the customary bibliographic citation, including author attribution, date, article title, journal name, DOI and/or URL, and copyright notice. ISSN:1534-7362 Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2014.

Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (COS)


RIT – Main Campus