Imagine hearing your favorite song and seeing the color purple, eating a turkey sandwich and seeing yellow, or seeing red whenever you feel alarmed. As wild and unreal as this sounds, these kinds of experiences actually happen to some people! There is nothing wrong with you if you have these unique color associations--you just have synesthesia.
What is Synesthesia?
Synesthesia is a condition that causes you to experience some senses simultaneously. A very common form of this trait is to always see specific letters or numbers as a certain color. For example, I might always view the letter A as green, B as blue, C as turquoise, etc.
Learn more about synesthesia HERE.
Read about Carey’s real-life experience with synesthesia.
Here’s a video demonstration of how synesthesia works for people who “see” sound. Notice that specific colors are accentuated with certain sounds:
YOU WILL NEED:
HERE’S WHAT TO DO!
- Take a look at Test card 1
What did you notice after looking at the first test card? If you’re like me, you identified the red numbers immediately without having to really search for them. Your eyes are just drawn to the difference in color right away, and it didn’t take any effort to “find” the red numbers.
2. Now check out test card 2
What was different about your experience with test card 2 versus test card 1?
If you DON’T have synesthesia, you would have found it more difficult to identify the differences in numbers. Sure, you could do it, but it just took a little more time. This is because all the numbers were the same color, so your eyes had to work a little harder to identify the differences.
If you DIDN’T have any trouble identifying the differences and the numbers were just as clearly separate as they were in test card 1, then you probably have synesthesia! Remember, this is NOT a disorder or a bad thing to have--you just experience the world a little differently!
Now that you understand the synesthesia testing process, try testing out your friends and family members!
Your goal is to determine whether your participants have synesthesia, but also to identify whether certain letters or numbers are associated with certain colors for most people. This may be a cultural phenomenon and would be interesting to discover! For example, if the majority of your participants associated the color red with the letter F, you might infer that that reaction relates to an F letter grade written in red pen. Of course, you would only create this association if your cultural background includes that experience.
YOU WILL NEED
- Test card 1
- Test card 2
- Writing utensil
- Computer (optional) to make a table
HERE’S WHAT TO DO!
- Just as you already did yourself, show your participant test card 1. Have your participant point out all the numbers that are different from the majority.
- How long did it take your participant to discover the red numbers? Most people will be able to point them out immediately. Ask your participant how difficult it was to identify the red numbers. Record the response.
- Now, have your participant look at test card 2 and identify the numbers that are different.
- What was your participant’s reaction to test card 2? Did it take longer to identify the numbers? Ask your participant whether it was more difficult, less difficult, or the same level of difficulty to identify the numbers that were different in test card 2 versus test card 1.
- If your participant answers that test card 2 was the same difficulty or less difficult than test card 1, he/she likely has synesthesia!
- Repeat steps 1-5 for as many participants as you would like to use. The more participants you have, the better your results will be! It is always more accurate to use more participants, as a larger number will be more representative of your population.
- Make a table to report your test results. You may use paper and writing utensils or use your computer. Word or Excel would work well. Your table might look something like this:
Extension: What colors do people associate with numbers?
This is an interesting study to complete, even if none of your participants had synesthesia. You might find out that people commonly relate certain numbers to certain colors. For example, people might commonly associate the number 1 with blue or gold, as first place ribbons are blue and first place medals are gold. Test it out!
HERE'S WHAT TO DO!
- Generate a random list of numbers.
- Read the number and have your participant say the first color that he/she thinks of. Record the responses.
- Repeat step 2 for each participant.
- Generate a second list using the same numbers, but in different order.
- Repeat step 2 and 3 with this new list.
- Analyze your results--did your participants create the same associations in the second round as they did in the first? Did the participants come up with the same associations as each other?
- Create a table to organize your results. Your table may look something like this: