Language and Culture Affect Color Cognition of Minorities People in Yunnan Province in China

Language and Culture Affect Color Cognition of Minorities People in Yunnan Province in China

Zhang Jijia 1, Xie Shushu 2

1 Ph.D., Department of Psychology, South China Normal University

2 Ph.D., Department of Applied Psychology, Jimei University

In three researches, using color classification task, Color similarity judgment task and color recognition task, to investigate whether different cultures and languages in Yunnan province affect these people’s color cognition including perception and memory, or weaker, just affect color memory. The results showed that 1) the color classification of undergraduates from Naxi, Yi and Bai were consistent with the cultures of these three nations; 2) Han students distinguished color similarity and recognized in green or blue category significantly faster and more accurate than Naxi students did. It meant that the mixed using of the words “green” and “blue” of Naxi   people led to their harder discrimination of green and blue than Han people; 3) Yi students discriminated ‘black’ with different brightness notably faster and more accurate than discriminated ‘white’. Bai students were on the contrary. Han and Naxi showed no notable difference.

To sum up, in our first study, Students from three nations were consistent in their classification of the 11 color terms in general, which was in flavor of perceptual Universalism. Nevertheless, there were significant differences among the three minorities and Han nation consistent with the differences in their languages and cultures and thus consistent with the predictions of Linguistic Relativity Theory. Language and culture do affect color cognition directly and indirectly.

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