August 20, 2007
Women Prefer Pink More Than Men

Yes, women prefer pinker colors yet we all like blue.

A study in the August 21st issue of Current Biology, a publication of Cell Press, reports some of the first conclusive evidence in support of the long-held notion that men and women differ when it comes to their favorite colors. Indeed, the researchers found that women really do prefer pink—or at least a redder shade of blue—than men do.

"Although we expected to find sex differences, we were surprised at how robust they were, given the simplicity of our test," said Anya Hurlbert of Newcastle University, UK. In the test, young adult men and women were asked to select, as rapidly as possible, their preferred color from each of a series of paired, colored rectangles.

Blue Man Group embody our basic human preference for blue.

The universal favorite color for all people appears to be blue, they found. "On top of that, females have a preference for the red end of the red-green axis, and this shifts their color preference slightly away from blue towards red, which tends to make pinks and lilacs the most preferred colors in comparison with others," she said.

So then when genetically engineered skin color becomes possible will anyone opt for blue skin or blue hair? Look at how popular blue eyes are.

Does it make more sense for women to die their hair blue to attract men and for men to go for a more reddish color to attract women? Or does the color preference not extend to preferences for mates? After all, blond hair is most desired in women. Yet blue eyes are too.

What I want to know: Does color preference vary at all according to sexual orientation? For example, do homosexual men lean more toward lilacs than hetero guys? Or do homosexual females lean more toward blue preference than hetero females? Also, does blood testosterone level influence color preference?

Overall, the differences between men and women were clear enough that the seasoned researchers can now usually predict the sex of a participant based on their favorite-color profile.

The color preference seems to track across at least 2 races.

To begin to address whether sex differences in color preference depend more on biology or culture, the researchers tested a small group of Chinese people amongst the other 171 British Caucasian study participants. The results among the Chinese were similar, Hurlbert said, strengthening the idea that the sex differences might be biological.

The question arises: Where does this color preference come from?

The explanation might go back to humans' hunter-gatherer days, when women—the primary gatherers--would have benefited from an ability to key in on 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."

Reddish faces as indicators of good nutrition and lots of red blood cells seems plausible. But reddish fruits? Seems like many more plant foods are green. Why would food gathering favor reddish foods? Are reddish plants more likely to be digestible for calories than, for example, green leaves?

Hurlbert suspects the preference for blue might be due to the desirability of blue skies for hunting or perhaps blue water for greater purity and safety. Can you think of another reason for the blue preference?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 August 20 08:20 PM  Brain Sexuality

doctorpat said at August 22, 2007 4:49 AM:

Fruit actually attract animals to eat them, as this is how the seeds are spread.
Red and Orange fruits are designed to attract the visual systems of birds and mammals, while blue and violet fruit are more of a draw to the higher frequency based vision of insects.
This is a case of evolution in concert: The fruit is developed to be nutritious to mammals, and to be noticeable to their eyesight. In return, the mammals optimise their eyesight to that colour, and optimise their digestion to that sort of fruit, the cycle repeats.
So... red and orange type fruit are suitable for mammals (and birds). Note how the fruit doesn't TURN red until it is ripe. Before the seeds are mature, the fruit is 1. Green to not attract the mammals. 2. Sour to not suit their taste/digestion.

Joseph Hertzlinger said at August 25, 2007 10:57 PM:

Maybe human beings used to hunt a now-extinct species of blue animal.

Jen said at August 30, 2007 12:37 PM:

Is this a joke?! This is the most methodologically flawed study I have ever heard of in my life! Your control group consists of adults who live in a Western society which has socialized them from day one to prefer particular colors?! Oh, plus "a small group of Chinese people." It is utterly impossible to prove that their knee-jerk choices have anything at all to do with biology *or* socialization. This must be a joke. In order for this study to be even remotely sound (or at least not laughable), you would have to conduct it with many more people, in many more places. This is totally silly.

Randy Zotter said at September 15, 2009 11:23 AM:

If, as they report, woman could then discern “subtle changes in skin color [pink]….” so as to help them spot a potential mate. Why hasn’t evolution led to the all pink male? Since we think about sex every seven seconds, the pinker the better.

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