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.