Going for gold: Babies shun yellow at 7 months old in new study


Babies prefer the gold color of Olympic medals to green and are able to recognize glossiness or other complex textures from 7 months old, according to a study by Japanese researchers published Thursday on PLoS One, an online U.S. scientific journal.

In the study — titled “Can infants tell the difference between gold and yellow?” — the research team, led by Masami Yamaguchi, a professor of psychology at Chuo University, examined whether surface specular reflectance affects color perception.

The research was conducted on 24 babies ranging in age from 5 to 8 months. The babies were simultaneously shown two computer-generated images, and the researchers observed which one they fixed their gaze on longer.

The babies were first shown the images in yellow and green, colors for which adults have been shown to have roughly an equal degree of preference. In the study, the babies’ preferences for the two colors were also about the same.

In the next stage, the babies were shown an image of a glossed yellow with a burnished gold finish and then a glossed green image to compare their reactions. No difference was seen among those aged 5 to 6 months. However, the 7- to 8-month-olds fixed their eyes on the gold image for a longer period.

Babies are believed to develop an ability to view the outside world three-dimensionally at about 7 months old. Yamaguchi said the study found they also develop the ability to recognize glossiness or other complex textures at around the same age.

She said babies seem to like gold because “the color is very similar to sunlight and other types of illumination, which perhaps gives them a sense of security.”

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