To illustrate how people think differently about color, I brought six identical bags of colored Legos for people to sort into groups:
I randomized the number of groups by rolling an eight-sided die and adding four. The roll was 6, for 10 groups. When asked what the purpose of the sorting was, I replied "Teaching a young child about colors."
As I expected, there was a lot of variation in how people sorted the colors:
Then, a family of Chinese tourists came up to us and asked what we were doing. (We meet in a public place.) We explained the activity, and invited them to sort the colors into groups however they wanted. A middle-aged woman and an older woman started sorting.
The middle-aged woman's sort was roughly similar to ours:
But the older woman, who did not speak English, made radically different choices. She basically sorted them by saturation rather than hue. We were especially fascinated by how she put bricks in different groups that we thought were identically colored, but upon closer inspection had slight differences in color due to age:
The exercise was strong evidence that people see and think about color differently, even when very culturally similar, and that people from different cultures can see things very differently.