Seeing Color Differently

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People see colors differently because:

  • Different eye structure

    Votes: 2 66.7%
  • Mental descsion

    Votes: 2 66.7%
  • Nurture

    Votes: 1 33.3%

  • Total voters
  • #1


As an artist I see this all the time. One person says its green, another says its brown. Here is the question: Is it a physical difference in the eye that makes peope see different colors, or is it a mental descission that was made early in life where someone told them that was green and someone told you that was brown? Or was it nurture, where I am used to telling colors by the way oil paints and pencils show, others are used to them by other means and those means may define them differently than mine?

Personally I am leaning towards the eye difference since I have been unable to convince people that green is green and not brown.
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  • #2
I've done a lot of temporary work in electronics, and in order to determine the values of components, some of which have been color-coded, you need to be able differentiate between color. This is why you're given a color test before being sent out on assignment, to determine whether or not you're color blind, and if you don't pass you don't get to go.

While I asked the person who tested me the last time about this, and was told I would be surprised at how many people were actually color blind. (I wasn't given an actual percentage.) Therefore I would tend to lean towards genetics here, and then the possibility that maybe we associate the wrong names to colors when we're young.
  • #3
Could it be the power of the rod/cones' abiltity to detect different levels of protien?
  • #4
All of the above?
1. Clearly enough. I believe that colour blindness is caused by genetic differences causing different patterns of cones etc.
2. I am very sure that people suffering from certain brain conditions perceive in general differently, not just in colour. All things that we do come through the mind.
3. Now, I remember reading that a certain society (Jamaica or something, I think) cannot differentiate between blue and green. They instead see green as a shade of blue. (or was it vice versa ) I also seem to remember that the chinese do not regard orange as a separate colour, but one called Golden-Yellow.
  • #5
I am not talking about actual color blindness. Something decided by genetics obviously. I am saying that both people see color, but they argue of what color it is.
  • #6
Originally posted by Ishop
I am not talking about actual color blindness. Something decided by genetics obviously. I am saying that both people see color, but they argue of what color it is.
You're talking about subtle disagreements about shade, I think. The green:blue divide is the source of the greatest debate. Reds and browns produce similar arguments.
But this is subjective. There is no specific science pertaining to experience. What's 'loud' for me, for example, may be acceptable to you. And I'm going to have an educated-guess that this same thing happens with colour: it's subjective; and within regions of transformation (blue to green, for example), we are probably inclined to see the colour which we as individuals are emotionally-inclined to see.
  • #7
Thx Lifegazer, not to be picky but you said shade not color. Shade is only variant degrees of black to non black (white). Sorry, artist in me
  • #8
I have to think that what you were told as a child a color is plays a very large part in how you see things. If you were raised to believe that the grass is blue, everytime you see that color or its shades you are going to see that it is blue.
  • #9
Actually colored blindedness probably has a lot to do with it, as it implies the inability to see certain colors. And instead of the color you're "supposed" to see, you see some other color by "default." This is how you're likely to mistake one color for another. I don't know exactly how it breaks down, except that it does vary.
  • #10
a few years ago i worked for a printing company, and color was EVERYTHING...we even had a position labeled "ink technician"...this ink technician attended all kinds of seminars, classes, etc on ink, pigment, color and was told that woman are far superior at distinguising color then men...i would have to agree with this if it is true for obvious reasons...
  • #11
Ignoring my suggestion that protien diffreneces will have effect on the rods and cones, I will presume that either genes (all thumbs up!) or the fact that color is anisotropic has something to do with this.
  • #12
Universal source ... white light

From the thread, The USA is God:
Originally posted by Iacchus32:
Originally posted by megashawn:
But perhaps these enlightened people were merely tapping into a source of universal information. Perhaps the act of meditation is to attune ones mind to the proper frequency to receive what the universe has to say. Or maybe, just maybe, some all mighty being is getting a big kick out of the new arena sport he just invented.
A source of universal information? Hmm... In other words the mind is like a receptacle, "or door," to another dimension?

"After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God." (Revelation 4:1-5)

So with respect to the rainbow and seven lamps, which are the seven spirits of God, it seems to suggest the six basic colors of the color wheel (red, orange, yellow, geen, blue and violet) in accord with the color white, where white is the center and the medium (white light): the 24 elders clothed in white? All of which is portrayed by the following:

Red-Orange-Yellow (123) + White-White-White (444) = Green-Blue-Violet (567). Whereas Yellow (3) x White-Red (41) = Red-Orange-Yellow (123) and, Violet (7) x Gray-Red (81) = Green-Blue-Violet (567). And also, Yellow-Violet (37) x Red-Orange (12) = White-White-White (444).

See a pattern here? It's simliar to the color code used in electronics, while also portraying the pattern on the front cover of my book - - which is strange because I practice a form of meditation where, once I "tune in," I begin to see yellow smoke rings (3) set against a violet backdrop (7). And as it progresses, a smoke ring takes form, and then begins to diminish in size, until a new one forms to take its place, and on it goes ... All of which has something to do with the "spherical nature" of things and keeping one's thoughts "in context" (in the moment): i.e., Yellow-Violet (37) x Red-Orange (12) = White-White-White (444) ... where the color white is the medium (4/444) or white light itself.

Also note that the color Gray corresponds to the number 8 which, in the absence of light, proceeds to the color Black (9). Whereas with the absence of light (0), you get that which reflects light, and hence the first "pigmented color," or Brown (10). Which is where the electronics color code begins by the way, beginning with black (0), brown (1), red (2), orange (3), etc..
  • #13
Behind the iron curtain decades ago there were research wherein blind children were able to "see" colors by touching it. Most probably it's due to their sensitivity at the varying wavelengths of a color spectrum.
  • #14
Around one third of our brain is dedicated to sight and supposidly some eighty or ninty percent of what we see is made up in the brain. As a result some people literally smell colors, taste colors, etc. Bottom line, what we call color and what we differentiate as various colors are just conventions and individual biology. That's not to suggest that the electromagnetic spectrum doesn't exist in and of itself, but that the equipment we use to describe it is rather complex. That we have a number of subtle disagreements concerning specific colors then comes as no surprise.
  • #15
In some subjects, Viagra causes mild color blindness. Who said love is blind?
  • #16
Greetings all, this is my first post at "physicsforums." I searched for over an hour before finding a topic that jumped out at me.

(Green is green and brown is brown)-Ishop

Ishop, have you considered the chance that you may have a color- vision deficiency? I only ask this because in my limited experience, those with so-called normal color-vision seldom find themselves in the position of clarifying certain colors as frequently as you appear to be. However, you are a painter so in such a profession those situations could reasonably be expected to be more common. Still, if you haven't been tested for color-deficiency, give it a go.

If I recall correctly, normal color vision for humans means having the ability to differentiate between atleast 100 hues. I remember this because according to my ophthalmologist, I exhibit a mild case of red-green colorblindness. Consequently, I read as much as I could about the subject. The latter of course is a misnomer--colorblindness--I can see red and green as simple tests will demonstrate. I am what is called an anomalous trichromat. Weak pastels are tough for me to distinguish. Pastel blue green may appear white to me as well as light pink when there aren't strong contrasts. Olive browns are tough for me too, as are some greys and purples. However, I can almost always distinguish a difference in all colors when they are contrasted properly for me.

Anyway, I could talk for hours about color but long posts can be a bore, I know. For what it's worth, there is a school of thought that because I have fewer cones and more rods in my eyes I should be able to see better in the dark than those with normal vison. I like that.

Ishop, as to your questions in your original post, there are many reasons why people see colors differently: Genetics, trauma, medications, some diseases, and aging to name a few.


  • #17
your mind makes it real

i believe that its your mental perception.
you can make that coffee taste like tea because you don't listen to your mind. it can be done, try it.
  • #18
Edit: Yes, you concentrate on a certain taste. You do listen to your conscious mind but not your subconscious mind.

Anyhow, to make it quite simple:
The colors we see are caused by different levels in protien in the light molecules or something. Maybe the cones in our eyes have a slightly differnet perception of the different levels of protien, thus causing us to observe slightly different colors. Also, as Albert Einstein once said, Everything is relative.

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