It’s the curtain styles, not the colours, that matter
Posted On August 8, 2021
A new study has found that the colours of curtains can affect the way people perceive the interior of a room, even when the curtains are not visible.
The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, found that people perceive different shades of colours when watching a curtain in a dark room compared to a light room, suggesting that a colour’s ability to convey colour is a crucial factor in perception.
Previous studies have shown that people tend to perceive curtains in a similar way when they are in dark and bright rooms, so the researchers wanted to understand how colours in curtains influenced people’s perception of the space.
The researchers conducted a series of colour experiments, where participants were shown a picture of a curtain and asked to determine which colour it was.
Participants who were shown the curtain in an all-dark room reported that the colour was more of a yellowish hue, while those in a light-all-dark environment reported that it was more pinkish.
The results of the experiment were striking.
When asked to describe how much they perceived the colour of the curtain, participants in all-damp rooms were more likely to report that the curtain was a yellow, compared to those in light-damped rooms.
“The colour of a wall, for example, is not necessarily the same as the colour that the curtains show in the dark room,” said the study’s lead author, Prof Jodi Smith, from the University of Auckland.
“We have known for some time that people prefer to see colour in the light, but we haven’t known how this relates to how people perceive colour in a dim room.”
The researchers also found that when the colour information was hidden, participants were less likely to be able to tell the difference between yellow and pink.
“It is now clear that people often see colours in a way that is not intuitive, even in the context of dim lighting,” Smith said.
“That is because people tend not to think in terms of how colours are perceived in dim lighting.”
What is the difference?
The researchers argue that when we think in words, we tend to think that the objects in our vision are identical.
However, when we see colours, it is actually quite different.
“People tend to associate colours with a particular type of object, and when that object is in the same colour as the curtains, the colour is perceived to be that object,” Smith explained.
“If the object in question is white, we do not think of it as a white object.”
So what does this mean for curtains?
“This study provides strong evidence that the physical properties of curtains may be more important than the colour, and may play a role in the perception of colour in dim light,” the researchers conclude.
“This is important as our experience of colour and its relationship to our perception of other objects in a room are complex and subject to change.”