Our Color Memory Isn't As Good As We Think

Well, science has done it again and proven that we aren't nearly as perfect as we's like to believe. This time, it's making us square with the fact that our memory of color isn't as good as we think it is. So, hey, if you've ever wondered why your mani pedi with that sassy new color you saw on Pinterest that morning looks a little more generic than you thought it was going to... now we know, and it's totally our own fault. It seems that when we're asked to remember a specific color, our minds envision that color's archetype, not necessarily the specific shade we were asked to remember. Who knew?

A team of scientists at Johns Hopkins University asked people to pick out what they thought was the "best" color for a bunch of different categories (so, which color they thought was the best shade of pink, the best shade of green, and so on) from a wheel of 180 colors. Then the participants were shown a color swatch for one tenth of a second and asked to pick out that swatch of color from the color wheel. Pretty simple, right? Actually... nope. Not at all. Subjects had a tendency to pick colors that were similar to their previously chosen "best" color for each category. Furthermore, they were even more inclined to lean towards their "best" color pick when there was a delay between seeing the original color and choosing the matching swatch.

This phenomenon is because of our brain's tendency to categorize information, noted lead researcher Jonathan Flombaum. Honestly, is their anything better than seeing something perfectly organized by color? I think not.


"We have very precise perception of color in the brain, but when we have to pick that color out in the world, there’s a voice that says, 'It’s blue,' and that affects what we end up thinking we saw," said Flombaum to Futurity. Not only is this important when we go in to get our nails done, but also in other life-changing decisions, like those made in context of the criminal justice system.

Color can affect our mood, productivity, success and happiness, so next time you have to make a color decision, maybe don't just rely on memory. Not sure which to pick? These colors are actually good for you, no matter what shade they are. You can't go wrong here!

1. Red

Represents energy and courage. You go, girl.

2. Orange

For strength. Because sometimes you have to eat jalapeños so you aren't starved out in prison.

3. Blue

Trust. Because if one of these girls was wearing blue this may have worked out better.

4. Purple

Wisdom. I don't know about you, but I always thought Katy Perry's purple hair choice was a wise decision. Rock on.

Images: Imgur; Giphy (5)