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Seeing Color Differently

  1. Different eye structure

    2 vote(s)
  2. Mental descsion

    2 vote(s)
  3. Nurture

    1 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Mar 23, 2003 #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.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 23, 2003 #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.
  4. Mar 23, 2003 #3
    Could it be the power of the rod/cones' abiltity to detect different levels of protien?
  5. Mar 23, 2003 #4


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    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.
  6. Mar 23, 2003 #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.
  7. Mar 23, 2003 #6
    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.
  8. Mar 23, 2003 #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
  9. Mar 24, 2003 #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.
  10. Mar 24, 2003 #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.
  11. Mar 24, 2003 #10


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    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...
  12. Mar 24, 2003 #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.
  13. Mar 25, 2003 #12
    Universal source ... white light

    From the thread, The USA is God:
  14. Mar 25, 2003 #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.
  15. Mar 25, 2003 #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.
  16. Mar 25, 2003 #15
    In some subjects, Viagra causes mild color blindness. Who said love is blind?
  17. Apr 20, 2003 #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.


  18. Apr 20, 2003 #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.
  19. Apr 20, 2003 #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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