The Color Pink

by Stacey

Perhaps there’s more to pink than pretty. According to this article in TIME magazine, women may be biologically programmed to prefer pink and red, while men prefer green. A study in the August 21st issue of Current Biology found consistent sex differences in color preferences.

Anya Hurlbert and Yazhu Ling, neuroscientists at Newcastle University conducted a color-selection experiment with 208 volunteers between the ages of 20 and 26. Participants were asked to move a mouse cursor as quickly as possible to their preferred color from a series of paired, colored rectangles, controlled for hue, saturation and lightness. Each person completed three separate tests, then was retested two weeks later.

On average, the study found, all people generally prefer blue, something researchers have long known. The study also found that while both men and women liked blue, women tended to pick redder shades of blue — reddish-purple hues — while men preferred blue-green.

To check for cultural bias, the researchers picked subjects from mainland China as well as British Caucasians and found the same male/female differences. “Though the Chinese participants showed a greater overall preference for red than their British counterparts (red is considered an auspicious color in China), Chinese women and men diverged in color preference predictably along the red-green axis,” the article says.

“This is the first study to pinpoint a robust sex difference in the red-green axis of human color vision,” says Yazhu Ling, co-author of the study. “And this preference has an evolutionary advantage behind it.”

Ling speculates that women’s ability to better discriminate red from green may have evolved from sex-specific divisions of labor, that is, while men were out hunting, women were busy gathering ripe berries and fruits. The article says another theory suggests that women as caregivers have developed a keener ability to detect fever in the flushed face of a child, a skill that enhances their nurturing role.

This study caught my eye for two reasons. One is personal. My husband and I have spent more time than is normal picking colors for the rooms in our house. Actually, it’s all my fault. We’re on house number two, sold the first and bought another. In both cases, I spent way too much time, as in everyone wanted to kill me because I wouldn’t shut up about paint samples, trying to come up with the perfect palette.

When it came time to make decisions, my husband and I were like a page from this study. He preferred blues, and greenish blues at that. And I loved the red and gold colors. We settled on both, the upstairs having more of the cool colors and the downstairs being more warm. One thing we both agreed on though: no pink. For some reason, both houses had these yucky pink-tiled bathrooms when we bought them. Not anymore.

While pink may not be my cup of tea, it sure is for many little girls especially when it comes in the form of a princess dress. (Thanks much, Disney.) So what do you think? Does this study explain the irresistible pink princess dress? Do the girls you know love pink?

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Filed under beauty, brain, family life, gender and color preferences, girl, girls, kids, pink, psychology

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