Does sadness impair color perception? Flawed evidence and faulty methods


In their 2015 paper, Thorstenson, Pazda, and Elliot offered evidence from two experiments that perception of colors on the blue-yellow axis was impaired if the participants had watched a sad movie clip, compared to participants who watched clips designed to induce a happy or neutral mood. Subsequently, these authors retracted their article, citing a mistake in their statistical analyses and a problem with the data in one of their experiments. Here, we discuss a number of other methodological problems with Thorstenson et al.'s experimental design, and also demonstrate that the problems with the data go beyond what these authors reported. We conclude that repeating one of the two experiments, with the minor revisions proposed by Thorstenson et al., will not be sufficient to address the problems with this work.


Holcombe, A., Brown, N., Goodbourn, P., Etz, A., & Geukes, S. (2016). Does sadness impair color perception? Flawed evidence and faulty methods. F1000Research.


    title   = {{D}oes sadness impair color perception? {F}lawed evidence and faulty methods},
    author  = {Holcombe, Alex and Brown, Nicholas and Goodbourn, P. and Etz, Alexander and Geukes, S.},
    year    = {2016},
    journal = {F1000Research}