Studies have contended that neurotypical Japanese individuals exhibit consistent color-shape associations (red-circle, yellow-triangle, and blue-square) and those color-shape associations could be constructed by common semantic information between colors and shapes through learning and/or language experiences. Here, we conducted two experiments using a direct questionnaire survey and an indirect behavioral test (Implicit Association Test), to examine whether the construction of color-shape associations entailed phonological information by comparing color-shape associations in deaf and hearing participants. The results of the direct questionnaire showed that deaf and hearing participants had similar patterns of color-shape associations (red-circle, yellow-triangle, and blue-square). However, deaf participants failed to show any facilitated processing of congruent pairs in the IAT tasks as hearing participants did. The present results suggest that color-shape associations in deaf participants may not be strong enough to be proved by the indirect behavior tasks and relatively weaker in comparison to hearing participants. Thus, phonological information likely plays a role in the construction of color-shape associations.
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