December 09, 2008
Male Faces More Red, Female Faces More Green

Guys, don't go getting green with envy. If you do that you might undermine your masculine appearance. Women have more green coloring in their faces whereas men have more red.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Men are red. Women are green.

Michael J. Tarr, a Brown University scientist, and graduate student Adrian Nestor have discovered this color difference in an analysis of dozens of faces. They determined that men tend to have more reddish skin and greenish skin is more common for women.

The finding has important implications in cognitive science research, such as the study of face perception.  But the information also has a number of potential industry or consumer applications in areas such as facial recognition technology, advertising, and studies of how and why women apply makeup.

Digitized pictures of male and female faces showed different ratios of colors.

To conduct the study, Tarr needed plenty of faces. His lab analyzed about 200 images of Caucasian male and female faces (100 of each gender) compiled in a data bank at the Max Planck Institute in Tübingen, Germany, photographed using a 3-D scanner under the same lighting conditions and with no makeup. He then used a MatLab program to analyze the amount of red and green pigment in the faces.

Additionally, Tarr and his lab relied on a large number of other faces photographed under similar controlled conditions. (Tarr has made them available on his web site,

What he found: Men proved to have more red in their faces and women have more green, contrary to prior assumptions.

The scientists also created androgynous faces but then altered them with more green or red coloring. Then a few students were asked to sort thousands of these faces into piles for male and female appearances. Well, the greener faces ended up more in the female pile while the redder faces ended up more in the male pile. So people use coloring of faces to categorize faces as male or female.

Next we need studies on the attractiveness of male and female faces with more green or red in them. Do women prefer more red in male faces and do men prefer more green in female faces? Also, how do heterosexual and homosexual preferences differ?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 December 09 11:08 PM  Brain Sexuality

JosefB said at December 10, 2008 1:30 PM:

I wonder how green or red shirts might change the outcome. Also, what gives the green or red tint?

Mary in LA said at December 16, 2008 3:05 PM:

Wearing a red shirt increases your risk of death... if you're a member of Star Fleet.

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