Aug. 20, 2007 — Girl’s preference for pink may have developed forevolutionary reasons rather than just a passion for fuchsia.
A new study shows that men and women have natural color preferences. Blue isthe overall favorite for both, but women prefer a redder or more pinkish shadeof blue than men.
Researchers say this predilection for pinker hues may have evolved becauseof women’s traditional role as the gatherer, allowing them to pick out thered, ripe fruit from a sea of green in the forest.
“Evolution may have driven females to prefer reddish colors — reddishfruits, healthy, reddish faces,” says researcher Anya Hurlbert of NewcastleUniversity, England, in a news release. “Culture may exploit and compoundthis natural female preference.”
Proving a Preference for Pink
In the study, researchers asked a group of more than 200 adults to quicklypick their preferred color from a pair of colored rectangles on a computerscreen.
“Although we expected to find sex differences, we were surprised at howrobust 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 huecircle.
Specifically, researchers found women preferred colors in the reddish-purpleregion of the color spectrum, while men’s preference shifted towardsblue-green.
“On top of that, females have a preference for the red end of thered-green axis. And this shifts their color preference slightly away from bluetowards red, which tends to make pinks and lilacs the most preferred colors incomparison with others,” says Hurlbert.
Researchers say the next step will be to test the color preferences ofinfants 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 backto our ‘savannah’ days, we would have a natural preference for a clear bluesky, because it signaled good weather. Clear blue also signals a good watersource.”