INTRODUCTION: important aspect which influences retention. It is


This study is dedicated to know more about memory
and one of the factor (colour) that influences it. Memory is the means by which
we retain and draw on our past experiences to use that information in the
present (Tulving, 2000b; Tulving & Craik, 2000). Memory as a topic is quite
vast and it has been almost overwhelming to study. Various aspects of memory
have been studied overtime including what aspect of the information aids in

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Colour  is considered to be an important aspect which
influences retention. It is used universally in instruction material in ads,
videos, teaching material, etc to draw attention. Research on colour and its
effect on memory retention has also been quite vast. The influence of colour is
also differentiated based on its “temperature”. Colours in the red
range of the spectrum are subjectively known as “warm” colours considered to be
active, stimulating; colours in the blue range of the spectrum are known as
“cool” colors considered to be restful, quiet.   

 It was proposed by
Faber Birren (1950) that warm colors, such as red and yellow, increase arousal
more than cool colors, such as green and blue. Birren’s finding was supported
by further research done by Greene, et al. (1983).

It is widely accepted fact that arousing events lead to better
memory. When undergoing these arousing events, hormonal changes in the brain
lead to enhanced memory.  Since colours
are said to be arousing they lead to improved memory.


Colour can be used to get attention, differentiate things, and
also to influence learning outcomes. For example: we use yellow to highlight
important learning material in books to draw attention towards it. Colurs can
influence our ability to remember both words and pictures. Colours can play a
positive role in affecting learners’ cognitive retention (Dzulkifli &
Mustafar, 2013)

Farley and Grant were one of the firsts suggesting the
relationship between colour and learning based on their experiment of cognition
and attention.


This experiment is based on the study done by Dr. Oluwakemi
Olurinola and Dr. Omoniyi Tayo from the Olabisi Onabanjo  University, Nigeria. In this experiment, the
participants were randomly assigned to one of the three groups chromatic
condition (congruent and incongruent condition) and Achromatic condition (black
and white). They were then presented with the word list with words having at the
most 3 syllables. Each list contained 20 words which was exposed for 10
minutes. They were then given mathematical sums to solve for 30 minutes to
prevent rehearsal. After which they were given recall test.

Performance on recall test was used as data. Descriptive and
Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) were utilized for analyzing the data. The study
showed that colour does affect the retention of learners. The Null Hypothesis
that there is no difference in the retention rate of students exposed to
Chromatic condition and Achromatic condition was rejected. Findings showed that
students exposed to Congruent and Achromatic condition performed better which
shows that not just any colour but congruent colours increases the retention of

The law of similarity leads us to link together parts of the
visual field that are similar in colour, these could have been responsible for
the significant difference between the mean scores of the congruent color group
and the incongruent color group.




Colour seems to be a part of every aspect of one’s life.
Various studies have been conducted to see how colour influences these aspects.
It has not gone unnoticed by researchers of Psychology that colour also has at
least some effect on various mental functions, two of them being memory and

According to the past research colour of the material to be
learnt is one of the major influencing factor. Through this study, we’re trying
to understand the influence of colour on retention. We’re also trying to
understand if the congruency of the colour with the learning material
influences retention. That means, If the material presented in congruent format
leads to better retention when compared to the material presented in black and
white, and Incongruent format.


People usually have norms of colours of objects. So when we
see a particular object we expect to see it in that colour. The law of
Similarity leads us to form such associations between the colour and object.
Disturbance of this preconceived notion is one of the reasons why we expect the
retention scores for Congruent condition to higher than other condition.




a. List of words printed in Congruent colours,
Incongruent colours, and Black and white.

b. Stop watch

c. Sheet with mathematical problems.

d. Blank sheet of papers for mathematical problems
and recall test.



The participants were invited and a rapport was
established. They were ensured of the privacy and a consent form was given.
After which, they were given a brief description of their roles and the
experiment was conducted. Instructions were given in a fairly easy to
understand language and the experimenter made sure that the participant
followed the instructions. Participants were then presented with either of the
three conditions, i.e. Monochrome, Congruent words, Or Incongruent words to
read for two minutes. They were then given a distracter task of simple
mathematical sums for  6 minutes to
prevent rehearsal. After which they were given a surprise recall test in which
they had to recall the previously read words. The recall scores were used as
the data in analysis of the experiment. 


Colour was the independent variable which was fixed
at three levels: monochrome, Congruent, and Incongruent. A list of 20 words was
presented to the participants for 2 minutes. The words were chosen such that
they had maximum of three syllables and were common English words.


The dependent variable was the recall score on
surprise recall test.

A score of 1 was given for each word correctly

statistics used to analyze was one way independent Anova.


1. This is a simple study in which you will be
presented with multiple tasks for which you’ll be given instructions as we go

For the first task, you’ll be presented with a sheet
of paper on which a list of words is typed. Your task is to read the list
carefully. You’ll be given 2 minutes to do so. Do you have any questions? Are
you ready to begin?

2. Now for the next task you will be presented with
a sheet of paper on which few simple mathematical sums are typed. Your task is
to solve these sums manually as accurately as you can. You will be given 6
minutes to do the task. Do you have any questions? Are you ready to begin?

3. Now for the next task you’ll be given a blank
sheet of paper on which you have to write all the previously read words. Please
note that the order of the words does not matter. You can write them in any
order that you remember. You can write the words in capital or small letters
which ever you prefer. You will be given 10 minutes to recall and write the
words. Do you have any questions? Are you ready to begin?