In a 2015 study reported in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, psychologists tested visual color memory and found shortcuts that humans brains use in recalling color.
Test subjects (average people, not print professionals or color experts) were shown a shade of a certain color and then later asked to match it.
The researchers, after conducting four different experiments, concluded that people use what the researchers call “category centers”– something like color silos — in their brains to access their visual working memory. If something is eggshell blue, for example, people will put the memory of that color in their “blue” silo. When it’s time to recall the color, people reach into their mental silo of blue and remember a more general version of blue than the actual color that they were shown.
We at Wallace Carlson Printing found the study interesting because two of the findings from the study are pertinent to those of us in the print, design and color reproduction world.
The first conclusion from the study relates to time lapse and its effect on color memory.
The longer the gap between when people saw the color and when they had to recall it, the less successful they were in making a correct match.
The second finding from the study regards the actual process for visual memory and recall.
As the study revealed. people tend to put color into silos in their memories. When asked to recall the color, humans reach into our mental vat of that particular color and, thus, are less likely to choose the right shade.
That brings us to how we approach color at Wallace Carlson Printing.
1. Wallace Carlson Printing is a G7 Master Qualified Printer.
There are numerous designations for G7 mastery, and we have achieved the highest level. Idealliance certifies our industry’s most knowledgeable experts and leaders in print, creative, and prepress services in the G7 methodology. G7® is Idealliance’s industry-leading set of specifications for achieving gray balance. It is the driving force for achieving visual similarity across all print processes. Idealliance is a not-for-profit association that has served the graphic and visual communications industry since 1966.
2. Our G7 trained prepress and press operators work with color every day.
We never wing it by trying to remember a color and match it. Our color team adheres to the highest specifications for G7 mastery. We follow a set of color specifications that leading color printers around the world follow.
3. Our G7 Master Printer status has taught us that visual color memory is a mental muscle that can be trained…but should not be relied upon.
As the study showed, color memory is not reliable. It’s crucial to master a non-biased methodology such as G7 to produce predictable and consistent color for our customers.
As we learn more about visual memory and recall of color, it’s clear that printers cannot take color for granted. At Wallace Carlson Printing, our G7 Master Printer status allows us to achieve the level of color printing that designers, brand managers and print buyers require and expect.
If you’d like to read more about the Visual Color Memory Study, here is an excerpt of the abstract from the Journal of Experimental Psychology:
“Categorization with basic color terms is an intuitive and universal aspect of color perception. Yet research on visual working memory capacity has largely assumed that only continuous estimates within color space are relevant to memory…. We propose a dual content model of color representation in which color matches to objects that are either present (perception) or absent (memory) integrate category representations along with estimates of specific values on a continuous scale (“particulars”). …In a first experiment pair, participants reproduce a color target, both with and without a delay, using a recently influential estimation paradigm. In a second experiment pair, we use standard methods in color perception to identify boundary and focal colors in the stimulus set. The main results are that responses drawn from working memory are significantly biased away from category boundaries and toward category centers. Importantly, the same pattern of results is present without a memory delay. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)”
Interested in learning more? Wallace Carlson Printing is a Minneapolis-based commercial printer that serves the midwest business markets as well as customers across North America with high-quality color printing, packaging, and mailing. If you’d like to see the difference that Wallace Carlson Printing can make with your printed projects, please contact us!