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How Does Color Affect Memory?

based on 136 ratings
Author: Sharon Cooper

Color is used in our daily lives in order to send signals—red for danger, yellow for caution, etc. Banks often use the color blue to give people a reassuring sensation. Colors can clearly evoke certain emotions, but can these emotions enhance memory?

Problem:

Can color affect memorization?

Materials:

  • Index cards
  • ​Markers in several different colors
  • A black marker

Procedure:

  1. Collect a set of participants. These can be volunteers from school, or from another community organization. List these participants and their contact information.
  2. Find a number of obscure historical dates that you believe would not be commonly known.
  3. Write these dates on index cards three times. On the front is the date, and on the back is the event that it describes (the event is always written in black). The dates are written in the following manner: a. One set of dates is written in black b. One set of dates is written in different colors to mark different trends. These trends are color coded-based on the emotional attachments that you have researched (for example, red = danger, etc) c. One set of dates is written in different colors at random, with no regard to trends or color patterns.
  4. Divide your list of participants into three: the control group, the trend group, and the random color group.
  5. Meet with each participant individually, and hand them their set of index cards. Give them as much time as they need to study the cards, but make sure that they do not use outside sources!
  6. When the participant is done studying the cards, take the cards back and test them. This can be done either using a written test, or an oral test. Record the results. (How long does it take them? How accurate are they? Etc.)
  7. The following day, meet with the participant again, and administer the test one more time, this time without giving them a chance to study the cards. This will test how much long term memory retention they have.
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