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."
Proving a Preference for Pink
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 screen.
"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 circle.
Specifically, researchers found women preferred colors in the reddish-purple region of the color spectrum, while men's preference shifted towards blue-green.
"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 source."