Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-x24gv Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-27T12:58:20.129Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Selective vision

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 August 2019

Marc H. Bornstein
Child and Family Research, Laboratory of Comparative Ethology, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, MD 20892-2030


The physics of color and the psychology of color naming are not isomorphic. Physically, the spectrum is continuous with regard to wavelength – one point in the spectrum differs from another only by the amount of wavelength difference. Psychologically, hue is categorical – colors change qualitatively from one wavelength region to another. The psychological characterization of hue that characterizes color vision has been revealed in a series of modern psychophysical studies with human adults and infants and with various infrahuman species, including vertebrates and invertebrates. These biopsychological data supplant an older psycholinguistic and anthropological literature that posited that language and culture alone influence perceptual processes; language and culture may modify color naming beyond basic categorizations.

Open Peer Commentary
1997 Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)