Text – background polarity affects performance irrespective of ambient illumination and colour contrast

@article{Buchner2007TextB,
  title={Text – background polarity affects performance irrespective of ambient illumination and colour contrast},
  author={Axel Buchner and Nicholas W. Baumgartner},
  journal={Ergonomics},
  year={2007},
  volume={50},
  pages={1036 - 1063}
}
In a series of experiments, proofreading performance was consistently better with positive polarity (dark text on light background) than with negative polarity displays (light text on dark background). This positive polarity advantage was independent of ambient lighting (darkness vs. typical office illumination) and of chromaticity (black and white vs. blue and yellow). A final experiment showed that colour contrast (red text on green background) could not compensate for a lack of luminance… 
Positive Display Polarity Is Particularly Advantageous for Small Character Sizes
TLDR
The findings are in line with the assumption that the typically higher luminance of positive polarity displays leads to an improved perception of detail and are important for the design of text on such displays as those of computers, automotive control and entertainment systems, and smartphones.
Smaller pupil size and better proofreading performance with positive than with negative polarity displays
TLDR
Pupil sizes were smaller and proofreading performance was better with positive than with negative polarity displays, compatible with the hypothesis that the positive polarity advantage is an effect of display luminance.
Impact of Color and Polarity on Visual Resolution with Varying Contrast Ratios and Different Text Backgrounds
TLDR
As contrast decreases, color plays a more significant role than the non-color factor in the resolution of fine details in both polarities as it influences the visual resolution outcome which is reflected in the measurements in logMAR units.
Comparing colour discrimination and proofreading performance under compact fluorescent and halogen lamp lighting
Legislation in many countries has banned inefficient household lighting. Consequently, classic incandescent lamps have to be replaced by more efficient alternatives such as halogen and compact
Effects of Illumination Conditions and Chromaticity Contrast on Reading Performance
This study investigated the effects of illumination conditions (lighting color and illumination intensity) and chromaticity contrast on reading performance with TFT-LCD screens. Results indicated
Effect of display polarity and luminance contrast on visual lobe shape characteristics
TLDR
The results indicated that positive polarity and contrast of medium to high (41:1) levels are possible display settings for better visual lobe characteristics and better anticipated search performance in industrial inspection tasks.
Positive display polarity is advantageous for both younger and older adults
TLDR
In an ageing society, age-related vision changes need to be considered when designing digital displays and brighter positivePolarity displays should help to compensate for this decline and, accordingly, lead to better performance than darker negative polarity displays.
...
...

References

SHOWING 1-10 OF 49 REFERENCES
Legibility and Subjective Preference for Color Combinations in Text
TLDR
No evidence suggested differential effects of luminance polarity or hue, with the only exception that cool background colors tended to be preferred for the light-on-dark polarity.
How display polarity and lighting conditions affect the pupil size of VDT operators.
This study ascertained that CRTs using a positive display polarity (dark characters on bright background) are ergonomically more appropriate for VDT operators than ones using a negative display
Psychophysics of reading. XI. Comparing color contrast and luminance contrast.
TLDR
The findings suggest that color contrast and Luminance contrast are coded in similar ways in the visual system but that the neural signals used in letter recognition are carried by different pathways for color and luminance.
Reading from Microfiche, a VDT, and the Printed Page: Subjective Fatigue and Performance
TLDR
Reading speeds tended to be slower for the negative image conditions, but reading comprehension scores were similar for all conditions, and visual fatigue was significantly greater when subjects read from negative microfiche projected on a metal screen or from the screen of a VDT with positive-appearing images.
Effects of chromatic and luminance contrast on reading.
TLDR
Arguments are presented suggesting that reading rates for equiluminant text are sustained by luminance transients introduced by transverse chromatic aberrations of the eye, almost as high as those found with high luminance contrasts.
Time course of contrast adaptation to VDU-displayed text
TLDR
VDU text-editing induces contrast adaptation at the predominant spatial frequencies (periodicity) of the text page, and displays of negative polarity induce stronger contrast adaptation than displays of positive polarity, while at medium spatial frequencies no effect of contrast polarity was observed.
Lighting characteristics, legibility and visual comfort of displays
Abstract In future, as well as visual human-computer interfaces, acoustic interfaces will get more and more important. However, the visual channel will be the more important channel due to its
Psychophysics of reading—V. The role of contrast in normal vision
...
...