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Naming Colors

MATERIALS. Use saturated red, yellow, blue, and green papers, about
2 x 1 inch in size, pasted one half inch apart on white or gray
cardboard. For sake of uniformity it is best to match the colors
manufactured especially for this test.

PROCEDURE. Point to the colors in the order, red, yellow, blue, green.
Bring the finger close to the color designated, in order that there may
be no mistake as to which one is meant, and say: "_What is the name of
that color?_" Do not say: "_What color is that?_" or, "_What kind of a
color is that?_" Such a formula might bring the answer, "The first
color"; or, "A pretty color." Still less would it do to say: "_Show me
the red_," "_Show me the yellow_," etc. This would make it an entirely
different test, one that would probably be passed a year earlier than
the Binet form of the experiment. Nor is it permissible, after a color
has been miscalled, to return to it and again ask its name.

SCORING. The test is passed only if _all_ the colors are named correctly
and without marked uncertainty. However, prefixing the adjective "dark,"
or "light," before the name of a color is overlooked.

REMARKS. Naming colors is not a test of color discrimination, for that
capacity is well developed years below the level at which this test is
used. All 5-year-olds who are not color blind discriminate among the
four primary colors here used as readily as adults do. As stated by
Binet, it is a test of the "verbalization of color perception." It tells
us whether the child has associated the names of the four primary colors
with his perceptual imagery of those colors.

The _ability_ to make simple associations between a sense impression and
a name is certainly present in normal children some time before the
above color associations are actually made. Many objects of experience
are correctly named two or three years earlier, and it may seem at
first a little strange that color names are learned so late. But it must
be remembered that the child does not have numerous opportunities to
observe and hear the names of several colors at once, nor does the
designation of colors by their names ordinarily have much practical
value for the young child. When he finally learns their names, it is
more because of his spontaneous interest in the world of sense. Lack of
such spontaneous interest is always an unfavorable sign, and it is not
surprising, therefore, that imbecile intelligence has ordinarily never
taken the trouble to associate colors with their names. Girls are
somewhat superior to boys in this test, due probably to a greater
natural interest in colors.

Binet originally placed this test in year VIII, changing it to year VII
in the 1911 scale. Goddard places it in year VII, while Kuhlmann omits
it altogether. With a single exception, all the actual statistics with
normal children justify the location of the test in year V. Bobertag's
figures are the exception, opposed to which are Rowe, Winch, Dumville,
Dougherty, Brigham, and all three of the Stanford investigations.

The test is probably more subject to the influence of home environment
than most of the other tests of the scale, and if the social status of
the child is low, failure would not be especially significant until
after the age of 6 years. On the whole it is an excellent test.

Next: Aesthetic Comparison

Previous: Comparison Of Weights

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