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Does sadness impair color perception? Flawed evidence and faulty methods

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ABSTRACT

In their 2015 paper, Thorstenson, Pazda, and Elliot offered evidence from two experiments that perception of colors on the blue–yellow axis was impaired if the participants had watched a sad movie clip, compared to participants who watched clips designed to induce a happy or neutral mood. Subsequently, these authors retracted their article, citing a mistake in their statistical analyses and a problem with the data in one of their experiments. Here, we discuss a number of other methodological problems with Thorstenson et al.’s experimental design, and also demonstrate that the problems with the data go beyond what these authors reported. We conclude that repeating one of the two experiments, with the minor revisions proposed by Thorstenson et al., will not be sufficient to address the problems with this work.

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Distribution of color patch scores in (a) Experiment 1 and (b) Experiment 2. Histograms show the number of occurrences of each score for the red, green, blue and yellow color patches. The range of scores on thex-axis is 0–6, reflectingThorstensonet al.’s (2015a) scoring scheme of 0.5 points per correct answer, with 12 trials per color. Note the discontinuity in they-axis for blue patches in Experiment 2 (bottom row, second panel from right), added to accommodate the surprisingly high peak at 6.
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f3: Distribution of color patch scores in (a) Experiment 1 and (b) Experiment 2. Histograms show the number of occurrences of each score for the red, green, blue and yellow color patches. The range of scores on thex-axis is 0–6, reflectingThorstensonet al.’s (2015a) scoring scheme of 0.5 points per correct answer, with 12 trials per color. Note the discontinuity in they-axis for blue patches in Experiment 2 (bottom row, second panel from right), added to accommodate the surprisingly high peak at 6.

Mentions: Using the patch-level data, we broke the two-color axis scores down into individual colors, as shown inFigure 3. For Experiment 1, the per-color data more or less followed the pattern of the two-color axis of which each color was a part (Figure 3a); this was also true for the red–green axis in Experiment 2 (Figure 3b, left panels). However, an even stranger pattern emerged for the blue–yellow axis in Experiment 2 (Figure 3b, right panels). Of the 130 participants, 106 (81.5%) scored a maximum 6.0 (corresponding to 12 correct responses) for blue, while 56 (43.1%) scored zero for yellow. The observed “spike” at 50% (i.e., 12 out of a possible 24 correct responses) for the blue–yellow axis is thus mostly explained by people who had a perfect score (12 out of 12) for blue, while completely failing to recognize yellow patches at any saturation and thus obtaining a score of 0.


Does sadness impair color perception? Flawed evidence and faulty methods
Distribution of color patch scores in (a) Experiment 1 and (b) Experiment 2. Histograms show the number of occurrences of each score for the red, green, blue and yellow color patches. The range of scores on thex-axis is 0–6, reflectingThorstensonet al.’s (2015a) scoring scheme of 0.5 points per correct answer, with 12 trials per color. Note the discontinuity in they-axis for blue patches in Experiment 2 (bottom row, second panel from right), added to accommodate the surprisingly high peak at 6.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4979646&req=5

f3: Distribution of color patch scores in (a) Experiment 1 and (b) Experiment 2. Histograms show the number of occurrences of each score for the red, green, blue and yellow color patches. The range of scores on thex-axis is 0–6, reflectingThorstensonet al.’s (2015a) scoring scheme of 0.5 points per correct answer, with 12 trials per color. Note the discontinuity in they-axis for blue patches in Experiment 2 (bottom row, second panel from right), added to accommodate the surprisingly high peak at 6.
Mentions: Using the patch-level data, we broke the two-color axis scores down into individual colors, as shown inFigure 3. For Experiment 1, the per-color data more or less followed the pattern of the two-color axis of which each color was a part (Figure 3a); this was also true for the red–green axis in Experiment 2 (Figure 3b, left panels). However, an even stranger pattern emerged for the blue–yellow axis in Experiment 2 (Figure 3b, right panels). Of the 130 participants, 106 (81.5%) scored a maximum 6.0 (corresponding to 12 correct responses) for blue, while 56 (43.1%) scored zero for yellow. The observed “spike” at 50% (i.e., 12 out of a possible 24 correct responses) for the blue–yellow axis is thus mostly explained by people who had a perfect score (12 out of 12) for blue, while completely failing to recognize yellow patches at any saturation and thus obtaining a score of 0.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

In their 2015 paper, Thorstenson, Pazda, and Elliot offered evidence from two experiments that perception of colors on the blue–yellow axis was impaired if the participants had watched a sad movie clip, compared to participants who watched clips designed to induce a happy or neutral mood. Subsequently, these authors retracted their article, citing a mistake in their statistical analyses and a problem with the data in one of their experiments. Here, we discuss a number of other methodological problems with Thorstenson et al.’s experimental design, and also demonstrate that the problems with the data go beyond what these authors reported. We conclude that repeating one of the two experiments, with the minor revisions proposed by Thorstenson et al., will not be sufficient to address the problems with this work.

No MeSH data available.