Describing color appearance: hue and saturation scaling

Percept Psychophys. 1994 Jul;56(1):27-41. doi: 10.3758/bf03211688.


Most of the fully elaborated systems for describing color appearance rely on matching to samples from some standard set. Since this is not satisfactory in all situations, various forms of direct linguistic description have been used, ranging from color naming to continuous numerical scaling of sensations. We have developed and extensively applied a particular variant in which subjects use percentage scales to describe their sensations of the four unique hue sensations (red, yellow, green, blue) and of the apparent saturation of colored lights. In this paper we explore the properties of this procedure, including its statistical properties and reliability both between and within subjects, in different contexts. We conclude that the technique is robust, easy to use, and provides direct access to sensory experience.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Color Perception*
  • Discrimination Learning*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychophysics
  • Sensory Thresholds