London: Some decisions may seem black or white - but new research has shown that the colours can actually affect the way people judge.

A study found that exposure to these two colours leads people to think in a "black and white" manner and hold more extreme views, a daily reported.

Participants were offered moral dilemmas printed against either a black and white or neutral background.

Those presented in monochrome put forward more polarised views, according to the research carried out by Dr Theodora Zarkadi, of Anglia Ruskin University, and Dr Simone Schnall, of the University of Cambridge.

Dr Zarkadi said: "The two experiments showed that priming participants with a black and white background resulted in them making judgements in a 'black and white' and therefore extreme manner, by giving responses closer to the scale's end points."

"The results indicate that the black and white metaphor was not driven solely by contrast because there was no comparable effect for the blue and yellow pattern in the first experiment.

"Instead, there appears to be a specific connotation of black and white that relates to judgement extremity," she said.

She added that the fact that colour can affect people's perceptions of right or wrong could have important practical implications, for example in contexts which involve judgements of others' guilt or innocence.

"Subtle perceptual stimuli in a courtroom, even in fairly innocuous objects such as the colour of floor tiles, might subconsciously influence people involved in legal proceedings, leading to biased judgements and decisions when objectivity is of utmost importance," she said.

"Discovering the existence of such factors might be the first step toward guarding against their potential influence," she insists.

The research is published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.


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