The structure of colour naming space

Steve Guest*, Darren Van Laar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An experiment is described which replicates recent name mapping work, and delves further into the detailed structure of colour naming space. Observers freely named 1044 CRT-displayed colour-background combinations, sampled regularly along the (u',v') axes of the 1976 UCS, and along a luminance axis. Three response measures - response times, confidence ratings and consistencies - were obtained. These measures were collapsed by principal components analysis (PCA) into 'nameability', a single measure of ease of naming of colours. The structure of colour naming space and the use of different colour name types, were investigated. Data confirmed the uniqueness of basic colour terms as compared with the non-basic terms, agreeing with previous constrained naming studies. Colour naming space was found to exhibit regular structure, which appears to be linked to fundamental response categories, and to previous observations that colour naming space may be divided into five major regions. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723-734
Number of pages12
JournalVision Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2000


  • Basic colours
  • Categorical perception
  • Colour naming
  • CRT displays


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