Walk into the little girls' aisle at a toy store, and you'll be inundated with pink. We take for granted gender differences in color preference, but for more than 100 years, studies have failed to find a biological basis for the disparity. New research confirms that girls go for red whereas guys do not and links the mechanism to the biology of vision. Our color likes and dislikes may be a remnant of the different roles that men and women played in our distant hunter-gatherer past.
Studies from as long ago as 1897 have hinted at differences in color preference between genders, suggesting that more females preferred reds than did males. But the data were murky and inconsistent, according to experts.
Hoping to clear the air, neuroscientists Anya Hurlbert and Yazhu Ling of Newcastle University in the U.K. performed an experiment on 171 British Caucasians and 38 recent immigrants from China aged 20 to 26. Each subject chose his or her favorite from a series of color pairs on a computer screen. Humans judge color on two scales--one red-green and one blue-yellow. Hurlbert and Ling assigned each color values on these same two scales and compared each gender's preferences.