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Combining colour and temperature

It is commonly believed that reddish colour induces warm feelings while bluish colour induces cold feelings. We, however, demonstrate an opposite effect when the temperature information is acquired by direct touch. Experiment 1 found that a red object, relative to a blue object, raises the lowest temperature required for an object to feel warm, indicating that a blue object is more likely to be judged as warm than a red object of the same physical temperature. Experiment 2 showed that hand colour also affects temperature judgment, with the direction of the effect opposite to object colours. This study provides the first demonstration that colour can modulate temperature judgments when the temperature information is acquired by direct touch. The effects apparently oppose the common conception of red-hot/blue-cold association. We interpret this phenomenon in terms of “Anti-Bayesian” integration, which suggests that the brain integrates direct temperature input with prior expectations about temperature relationship between object and hand in a way that emphasizes the contrast between the two.

[press release from Natuer Publishing Group]

Experimental system and color control by projection

Publications

  • Hsin-Ni Ho, Daisuke Iwai, Yuki Yoshikawa, Junji Watanabe, and Shin'ya Nishida, "Combining colour and temperature: A blue object is more likely to be judged as warm than a red object," Scientific Reports, Vol. 4, Article No. 5527, 2014. [open access]
  • Hsin-Ni Ho, Daisuke Iwai, Yuki Yoshikawa, Junji Watanabe, and Shin'ya Nishida, "Effects of color on perceived temperature," Perception, Vol. 42 (supplement), p. 167, 2013. (Proceedings of European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP2013))