Gender Differences in Colour Preferences

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Revision as of 13:34, 18 July 2011 by Vera Gender (Talk | contribs)

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The stereotype that girls prefer pink and boys blue may have some scientific basis according to researchers from
Newcastle University.  A study published in Current Biology reports that there are gender differences in colour preference, with women preferring a more red-based blue than men.

The Study

In the study, 171 young adult men and women were asked to select, as rapidly as possible, their preferred colour from each of a series of paired, colored rectangles.

Blue was the universal favourite color for both sexes but females preferred blue on the red end of the red-green axis which shifts their colour preference slightly away from blue towards red. According to lead author, Anya Hurlbert, "this tends to make pinks and lilacs the most preferred colors in comparison with others." The stark gender differences led the researchers to argue that they can now predict the sex of a participant based on their favourite colour profile.

Evolution: Culture and Biology

The question remains whether the reasons for this gender difference are due to evolution which may have had an impact on biological wiring or culture. In order to test this, the researchers also tested a small group of Chinese people. The results among the Chinese participants were similar, strengthening the case that sex differences might be biological. Evolutionary explanations suggest that in hunter-gatherer societies, women, as primary gatherers, would have needed to recognise ripe red fruits:

"Evolution may have driven females to prefer reddish colors--reddish fruits, healthy, reddish faces," Hurlbert said. "Culture may exploit and compound this natural female preference."


The common preference for blue may also be due to evolution, according to Hurlbert. "Going back to our 'savannah' days, we would have a natural preference for a clear blue sky, because it signaled good weather. Clear blue also signals a good water source."


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