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Color and memory

Faculty of Cognitive Science and Human Resource Development

KMF 2024 Research Methodology

Assignment 1 (30%)

The Effect of Colour on Memory Performance among FCSHRD Students in UNIMAS

Lecture’s Name: Dr. Norehan binti Zulkiply

Name: Michele Low Yen Wen

Matric No: 61414

Due Date: 26 April 2019

Chapter 1


1.0 Introduction

The purpose of this study is to determine the effect of colour on the memory performance among FCSHRD Students in UNIMAS. This chapter is divided into background of study, problem statement, research objectives, research question and hypothesis, conceptual framework, significance of study and scope of study.

1.1 Background of Study

Memory is defined as the mental process of acquiring, storing, retaining, and retrieving of information (Dzulkifli & Mustafar, 2013). Memory plays an important role for human in our daily life. Memory allows us to remember what we have learnt in the past either consciously or unconsciously. Thus, people with memory problem will face various degrees of anxiety and impaired functioning (Krahn, 2018). Memory problem is common nowadays regardless of people from different ages, gender and races, so ways to increase memory performance is a huge field of study.

Colour can be categorised into warm and cool colour depending on their position on the colour wheel. The colour wheel consists of the primary colour, red, blue and yellow. The combination of the pair of primary colours will form the secondary colour, purple, green and orange. While the tertiary colour is made up of the mixture of primary colour and secondary colour. Warm colour is located at the right side of the wheel while cool colour is located at the left side of the wheel. Colour is an important tool as it is used in educational tool for the purpose of getting attention and enhance clarity of the student (Olurinola & Tayo, 2015). Colour also have the ability in affecting the memory performance by enhancing the attentional level and arousal (Dzulkifli & Mustafar, 2013).

Many researches have been done and found that there is a stronger evidence to prove that the colour has positive effect on memory performance. Different types of stimuli such as objects, overlay on words and natural scenes have been used in the researches to show the overarching effect of colour on memory performance. A research was conducted by Farley and Grant in 1976 to investigate the memory for colour versus black and white in the multimedia presentation. In their studies, they came out a theory that colour have a great impact on retention (Farley & Grant, 1976). Pan has conducted a research to study the working memory and visual attention (Pan, 2010). He found a similar result that colour have a greater effect on the attention as compare to the shape. According to Dzulkifli and Mustafar (2013), colour is one of the crucial visual experience to human. Colour plays an important role as an information channel in the human cognitive system and has been proven to enhance memory performance. The investigation of the colour and memory performance is important as it provide a clear idea about the effect of colour in improving the memory performance of the UNIMAS students. Students and lecturers should know the functions of the colour so that they can utilize it fully in their academic material. The purpose of this study is to determine whether colour will affect the memory performance. The independent variable is the type of colour used (cool colour, warm colour and achromatic colour). While the dependent variable is the memory performance which will be measured by the number of word recall.

1.2 Problem Statement

We can see the existence of colour everywhere, whether naturally or artificially. Colour is used for the purpose of advertisement, video, and learning materials. In university, the learning materials either in computer screen or printed form are produced in colour. However, the colour attributes are always used without consideration (Nazzaro as cited in Olurino and Tayo, 2015). Choosing the appropriate colour for the learning material is important as it will affect the ability of the students to learn. Cognitive ability is defined as the ability of the student to perceive, pay attention, remember and understand the information (Dzulkifli & Mustafar, 2013). The cognitive ability of the students is important for them to have good memory performance. Students need a good memory performance as they need to remember a lot of the information taught by the lecturer. A good memory performance is needed especially students are going to sit for their final exam as they need to recall what they have studied. Nowadays, employer will decide for the shortlisted candidate based on the student transcript (Koeppel “,2006). GPA and CGPA of the student are important as it is the deciding factor of the employer to employ the student. Thus, research about the effect of colour and memory performance among FCSHRD Students in UNIMAS is needed to carry out as it can help students improve their memory performance.

1.3 Objective of Study

1.3.1 General Objective

The general objective of this research is to examine the effect of colour on memory performance among FCSHRD students in UNIMAS.

1.3.2 Specific Objective

i. To examine the effect of chromatic colour on memory performance among FCSHRD students in UNIMAS.

ii. To examine the effect of achromatic colour on memory performance among FCSHRD students in UNIMAS.

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1.4 Research Question

i. Does the use of colour affect the memory performance among FCSHRD students in UNIMAS?

ii. Is there a difference between chromatic colour and achromatic colour on the memory performance among FCSHRD students in UNIMAS?

iii. Which type of colour is the most effective in enhancing memory performance among FCSHRD students in UNIMAS?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

i. H01: There is no significant difference between chromatic colour and achromatic colour on the memory performance among FCSHRD students in UNIMAS.

1.6 Conceptual Framework

The conceptual framework for the research is shown in below.

Independent Variable Dependent Variable

Figure 1: Conceptual Framework

1.7 Definition of Terms

1.7.1 Chromatic colour

Having colour or pertaining to colour (Smitch, n.d.). Red, blue and green is the example of chromatic colour.

1.7.2 Achromatic colour

Free of colour or known as colourless (Smitch, n.d.). White, grey and black is the example of achromatic colour.

1.8 Significance of Study

This research investigated the effect of colour on the memory performance among FCSHRD Students in UNIMAS. This research is imperative as throughout this research, the effect of the type of colour used on the word recalled list will be discussed and analysed. Empirical evidence is needed in order to justify the accuracy and reliability of this research. Hence, this research will contribute a useful information for the FCSHRD student and lecturer in UNIMAS to utilise the colour in the educational tool to improve memory performance.

1.9 Scope of Study

This research investigates the effect of the colour (warm colour, cool colour and achromatic colour) on the memory performance among FCSHRD Students in UNIMAS. 30 respondents from the FCSHRD Students are randomly selected to take part in the research.

Chapter 2


2.0 Introduction

This purpose of this research is to determine the effect of colour on the memory performance among FCSHRD Students in UNIMAS. This chapter consist of the context of the topic and prior research related to the effect of colour on the memory performance.

2.1 Literature Review

The first model of memory was modal model which used to deliver an overview of the way information to be processed in each of the different memory types (Atkinson & Shiffrin as cited in Chang & Watt, 2018). Three stages are involved in the metal processes, they are encoding, storing and retrieval. According to Atkinson-Shiffrin Model, memory is organised as a system with three different stores: a sensory register store, short-term store and long-term store. Each store has different characteristic in term of encoding, capacity and duration. The stimuli from environmental will first reach sensory store and this sensory store can store large amount of information but the retention of memory is briefly only (Dzulkifli & Mustafar, 2013). If the information is subject to the attention, the information will then be transferred to short-term store for recognition and labelling (Chang & Watt, 2018). Finally, the information will be transferred to long-term store for permanent storage (Dzulkifli & Mustafar, 2013).

Attention is required by the learner to selectively choose the information for further processing in the cognitive system (MacKeracher as cited in Chang & Watt, 2018). The degree of the attention to the stimuli will enhance the probability of the information to be stored in the memory (Dzulkifli & Mustafar, 2013). It means that the information will more likely to be remembered if there is an attention to that information. It is also found that the colour help in remembering the information by increasing the attentional level. The colour has the ability of dragging attention to certain stimuli so that the information can be transferred to the permanent memory storage.

Farley and Grant (1976) were came out with the theory that colour has impact on attention. They were among the earliest to conduct a research to investigate the relationship between the reminiscence to the color versus black and white presentation condition. They stated that learning will not affect by colour, but the colour will affect the memory process in learning. The 52 undergraduate nursing students were randomly assigned to the colour and non-colour condition. Then, the performance of immediate and seven-day memory retention tasks of the students were compared. In this research, it is found that the attention in colour condition is better than the black and white condition (Farley & Grant, 1976).

Pan (2010) had conducted a research to investigate the attentional capture by working memory contents. They compared the difference between the colour and shape on recognition by asking the participants to identify the difference in either colour or shape. In the research result, it showed that the response time taken by the participants is shorter in identifying difference in colour as compared to difference in shape. This study showed that the colour has the competitive advantage to capture attention than shape.

Smilek (2002) carried out a study to investigate the effect of colour on memory. The digit numbers were presented in four different conditions, white, black, congruent colour and incongruent colour. Participant were given three minutes to study the matrix and three minutes to write down the number of digits they remembered. This study found that the participant performed better in congruent colour condition than incongruent colour in memorizing the digit numbers.

Wichmann, Shape and Gegenfurtner (2002) had also found that the use of colour is beneficial for memory. In the first experiment, colour recognition of the participants are tested by given two different types of images, which are black-and white image and colour image. It is found that the colour condition outperform the black-and -white condition. In the second experiment, the two different condition of the images are further classified into different contrastivity. The contrast level of 5%”,10%”,20%”,40%, 70% and 100% was used. It is found that the colour images have better memory recognition as compared to black-and-white images

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Olurinola & Tayo (2015) had found a clear advantage that the colour has effect on retention and thus the efficacy of the colour on retention and memory performance can be confirmed through this research. The words were presented in either chromatic colour (congruent and incongruent) and achromatic colour. The retention rate was represented by the number of words remembered. The results showed that congruent and achromatic colour performed better than incongruent colour in the retention performance.

Vernon and Lloyd-Jones (2003) examined the effect of colour in implicit memory and explicit memory performance. The 60 objects were classified into 30 coloured objects and 30 non-coloured objects. The participants were requested to name the objects in the study phase. Then, 20 new objects were added into the test phase. The participants need to recognise the objects in three different conditions, that are same colour, change colour and non-colour. The result showed that the response time taken by the participant in recognising the coloured objects is shorter than the non- coloured objects.

Krahn (2018) decomposed the effect of colour on memory. The objects are presented in three different condition, which are blue, red and black. Three group of the participants are required to recognise the object they have “studied” or “not studied”. It is found that the red objects recorded the higher accuracy, indicated that the red object has the greater impact in recognition memory. This provided an evidence that difference of colour will have different impact on the memory, and certain colour are better in enhancing the memory.

The above studies have shown that colour have positive effect on memory performance. However, a contradictory result was obtained in the following study. McConnohie (1999) had conducted a study to investigate the effect of colour on memory performance. The alphanumeric characters are displayed to the participants via slideshow in three different background conditions. The backgrounds were displayed in white, blue and green colour while the characters were display in black colour. In this study, it was found that the slides with white background depicted the highest retention rates in both the immediate and delayed recall task among the coloured background. The results obtained contradicted the previous studies that the colour lead to better memory performance.

2.3 Summary

Based on the above literature review, most of the studies have shown that the colour is effective in in leading better memory performance. According to Dzulkifli and Mustafar (2013), it can be summarised that there are some factors influence the effectiveness of colour on memory performance. Colour consistency used during encoding and retrieval is one of the factors. It means the colour presented to the participant during study phase should be same to the colour during the test phase. This rule is in accordance with the encoding specificity principle that emphasise memory performance is depended on the interaction between the encoding and retrieval process (Tulving as cited in Dzulkifli & Mustafar, 2013).

The combination of the colour in both background and foreground condition is the other factor. Choosing the correct combination of colour is crucial so that high level of contrast can be produced. The contrastivity of the colour has effect on memory performance. High level of colour contrast can be related to the colour hue which means wavelength and luminance which means brightness of the colour. The high contrast of colour is predicted to have high visibility and it can gain attention. Thus, the information can be effectively transferred from sensory memory to permanent memory store.

Choosing the right colour in educational tool is important as it will affect the memory performance of the student. Memory can be help in enhancing memory performance by attracting attention so that the information can be encoded into the permanent memory store. Moreover, in order for the successful retrieval of memory, the colour used during the encoding phase should be identity to the retrieval phase.

Chapter 3


3.0 Introduction

This chapter consist of 4 sections to explain about how to carry out this research. It includes the research design, research participants, research instruments and research procedures.

3.1 Research Design

This study is conducted in University Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS). This study is using the experimental design. Then, the quantitative method is used to carry out this study as the data is in the form of test score and will be analysed statistically. The survey questionnaire and memory test are distributed to the respondents of FSCHRD in UNIMAS. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of colour on memory performance among FSCHRD students in UNIMAS.

The independent variable for this study is the type of colour use for the word recall list. The type of colour is either chromatic colour or achromatic colour. While the dependent variable for this study is the memory performance which will be measured by the number of words recall.

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3.2 Research Participant

The participants in this research are the undergraduate students from FSCHRD in UNIMAS. The total number of 60 participants are selected randomly, which 20 students are chosen from each batch which includes Year 1, Year 2, and Year 3. Total number of 60 students are selected and this sample can be used to represent the whole population of the FSCHRD students in UNIMAS. Random sampling technique is applied in this study.

3.3 Research Instrument

The research instrument used is questionnaire and memory test. The questionnaire is used to record the demography background of the participant. The information such as year of study, gender, races and course taken are asked in the questionnaire. While for the memory test, word recall list is used to compare the memory performance of the participants by using different colour condition. The 20 words recall lists are printed in times new roman with font size of 26, single spaced and centre aligned on a white A4 paper. The participant will receive the same word recall lists and the different is that the lists were either printed in black ink or colour ink. The memory performance will be based on the number of the word remembered by the participant in the words recall lists.

3.4 Pilot Study

Pilot study is used in this research. Pilot study is carried out to identify the potential flaw happen in this research. Moreover, pilot study also provides us the time needed to complete the experiment. The validity and reliability of the questionnaire is determined. The participants are randomly chosen among the FSCHRD students in UNIMAS to ensure the validity of the result. The reliability testing is used to justify that the instruction and question are understandable and suitable for the respondent.

3.5 Research Procedures

A total set of 60 questionnaires and memory tests are randomly distributed to the undergraduate FSCHRD students in UNIMAS. First the participants are being ask if they have colour-blind problem so that they will receive the full colour view of the words. All the participants are agreed to join for this research voluntarily. The participants are requested to read and sign the informed consent form. The participants are then instructed to answer all the question stated in questionnaire. This experiment is consists of study phase and test phase. In the study phase, participants are given 3 minutes to memorise the word recall lists. Then, the participants are given 1 minutes to write down the word they remembered in the test phase. After the participants have completed the test, debriefing is given to them. The explanation about the purpose of the study and what have been done in the study is given to the participants. The participants are also allowed to ask question about the research in the debriefing session and their questions will be answered.

The difference performance of the chromatic condition and achromatic condition will be analysed by comparing the number of the word recall lists. The data collected will be analysed by using the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS). Descriptive statistic and inferential statistic are used to analyse the data collected. The descriptive statistic is used to analyse and organised the data based on the demographic information. While the inferential statistic was used to analyse the data obtained from the sample and interpret it into population perspective. An independent t-test was used to identify the significant difference between the type of colour used and memory performance.


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