Date of Original Version




Abstract or Table of Contents

Two experiments explored the hypothesis that colors produce different cognitive learning motivations: red produces an avoidance motivation and blue produces an approach motivation. The avoidance motivation results in better performance on detail-oriented tasks, and the approach motivation results in better performance on creative tasks. To test this prediction, the first study used a signal detection task manipulating word valence and color to independently measure (a) the ability to discriminate previously seen words from new words and (b) response bias. The second study used process dissociation, a method that separates conscious recollection from unconscious memory, to measure the effect of color and divided vs. full attention on a word-stem completion task. In both studies the effect of color was found to be non-significant while the secondary effects (word valence in the first study and attention in the second study) were found to be significant. These studies call into question the idea that color strongly influences cognitive task performance.


Advisor: Roberta L. Klatzky

Department of Psychology