WebMD Medical News
Louise Chang, MD
Aug. 20, 2007 -- Girl’s preference for pink may have developed for
evolutionary reasons rather than just a passion for fuchsia.
A new study shows that men and women have natural color preferences. Blue is
the overall favorite for both, but women prefer a redder or more pinkish shade
of blue than men.
Researchers say this predilection for pinker hues may have evolved because
of women’s traditional role as the gatherer, allowing them to pick out the
red, ripe fruit from a sea of green in the forest.
"Evolution may have driven females to prefer reddish colors -- reddish
fruits, healthy, reddish faces," says researcher Anya Hurlbert of Newcastle
University, England, in a news release. "Culture may exploit and compound
this natural female preference."
In the study, researchers asked a group of more than 200 adults to quickly
pick their preferred color from a pair of colored rectangles on a computer
"Although we expected to find sex differences, we were surprised at how
robust they were, given the simplicity of our test," says Hurlbert.
Although both men and women had a natural preference for “bluish” contrasts,
the study showed women’s top choices were at the reddish end of the hue
Specifically, researchers found women preferred colors in the reddish-purple
region of the color spectrum, while men's preference shifted towards
"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," says Hurlbert.
Researchers say the next step will be to test the color preferences of
infants to separate the “nature vs. nurture” element of color preference.
As for the universal preference for blue, "I can only speculate,"
says Hurlbert. "I would favor evolutionary arguments again here. 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
SOURCES: Hurlbert, A. Current Biology, Aug. 21, 2007: pp R623-625.
News release, Cell Press.
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