Personality Effects in Synaesthesia
Hossain, Shyla R.
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Synaesthesia is condition is which sensory input is perceived through two or more modalities. Grapheme-colour synaesthesia is a variety of the condition in which reading or hearing letters or numbers simultaneously triggers the perception of colours. The qualities of these colours can be quantified by measuring their saturation and luminance values, as determined by a colour palette paradigm. Consistency in matching colours to graphemes across repeated trials can also be measured. Personality traits have also been quantified through the use of self-report questionnaires measuring the five major traits: Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness to Experience. Groups of individuals such as artists, people with depression, and synaesthetes have all been characterised by scoring especially high or low on personality trait scales. In this paper, we aim to inform the discussion regarding how personality and perception are related by correlating personality trait scores with dimensions of colour and degree of synaesthetic experience. Twenty grapheme-colour synaesthetes were e-mailed the Big Five Inventory (BFI), a personality questionnaire. Their consistency scores and average colour saturation and luminance values were calculated from data gathered by a previous study. Two major results were found: first, that Openness to Experience predicted the perceived levels of colour saturation, and secondly, that the degree of synaesthetic experience correlated to higher levels of perceived luminance of colour. In conclusion, the study provides evidence that personality and perception are intertwined, and suggests future avenues of research for investigating the link between the two.