Researchers at Harvard University recently released a study that makes a very interesting revelation: our concept of “threat” and the color blue, it turns out, is all relative and is not based on hard-and-fast rules. This is how the experiment worked: the researchers showed subjects a series of dots that ranged in color from very blue to very purple. For the first 200 times, the participants saw an equal number of blue and purple dots from the color spectrum. After that, the number of blue dots gradually decreased.
By the end, the subjects’ interpretation of the colors was different: dots they thought were purple in the first experiments they now saw as blue. This happened even after researchers told the subjects that the number of blue dots would decrease and they would be paid in cash for correct answers.
The team also had similar results when they conducted experiments about whether a face was threatening or a research proposal was unethical. Even when the rate of threatening faces or unethical proposals decreased, the subjects picked them out at the same ratio, and viewed benign faces or proposals as being threatening and unethical.
So what does it all mean? The researchers think the results might explain why so many people are pessimistic about the state of world affairs. The authors of the study believe that as social problems decrease (poverty, illiteracy) and become less common, issues that previously seemed minor or insignificant start to seem more problematic.
Take a look at this video for more information: