Sustained attention, the process by which people focus on something for a long period of time, is a well documented phenomenon. It has enormous implications for life, from tasks as complex as surgery to as mundane as driving a car. However the effect that color has on sustained attention is rarely studied. The current study examined the effect of the presence of canonical color in images versus inverted colors, or black and white images. This effect was measured via a go/no-go paradigm gradual onset continuous performance task (gradCPT). A memory task was presented after the gradCPT in order to determine if color information affects implicit recall ability. Among the data from the sustained attention task, no difference was found in performance on the task between color and BW, or between canonical color (CAN) and inverted color (INV). However reaction time (RT) was significantly faster for the CAN compared to Inv. RT was approaching significance for color compared to BW. The memory task did show some interesting results. In experiment 1 and 2, recall ability was better for the stream images (no-go trials) than the city images (go trials). Recall was also better for color images compared to BW, and for CAN images compared to INV images. Although no difference was found for sustained attention performance, the data suggest that the presence of more color information, as long as that information is accurate, improves reaction time and recall ability. The data also show that recall is better for images that are more important, even if they are seen much less.
Steinharter, Harry, "Effects of Color on Sustained Attention and Recall" (2023). Psychology Honors Papers. 92.
Available for download on Monday, May 22, 2023
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