Dorothea Jameson

University of Pennsylvania

November 16, 1920 - April 12, 1998


Election Year: 1975
Scientific Discipline: Psychological and Cognitive Sciences
Membership Type: Member

Dorothea Jameson was a cognitive psychologist who, along with her colleague and husband Leo Hurvich, researched color and visual perception.  Her first work dealt with stereoscopic vision and led to improvements in the accuracy of visual rangefinders used during World War II.  It was then that she met Hurvich, and they experimentally deduced psychophysical, qualitative evidence for Hering’s opponent-process theory of color vision, which stated that the visual sensory system interpreted information about color by processing opposing signals from the retina’s photoreceptors (cones and rods).  Jameson and Hurvich developed the concept of unique hues for red, yellow, green, and blue, in which red and green, and yellow and blue were in opposition to each other.  Their results developed into the hue cancellation method for color, verifying Hering’s opponent-process theory.  The pair also applied the Hering analysis to account for quantitative principles of color blindness, the correlation between wavelength and saturation, and the phenomenon of color and brightness contrast.

Jameson received her B.A. degree in 1942 from Wellesley College.  From 1941 to 1947, she worked as a research assistant for the Division of Research at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Business Administration (where she met Hurvich in 1944).  She left the university to accept a position as a research psychologist for the Color Technology Division of the Eastman Kodak Company.  In 1957, she went to New York University as a research scientist in the Department of Psychology.  Jameson stayed there until 1962 when she became a research associate and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Psychology and Institute of Neurological Science.  She was promoted to University Professor in 1975, and worked until 1991 when she became a professor emeritus.  Jameson was affiliated with several professional organizations, among them the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.  For her many contributions, she was awarded the Warren Medal for Outstanding Research of the Society of Experimental Psychologists in 1971, the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association in 1972, the Godlove Award for Research in Color Vision of the Inter-Society Color Council in 1973, the Tillyer Award for Distinguished Work in the Field of Vision of the Optical Society of America in 1982, and the Hermann von Helmholtz Award of the Cognitive Neuroscience Institute in 1987.

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