Do Men and Women See the World Differently Colored?

It goes without saying that men and women are too different to be able to understand each other. However how really different are they?

It may be that the difference is enormous because men and women might even “see” the world differently (literally speaking).

The gender difference might lie in response to color. Although findings are ambiguous, many investigations have indicated that there are huge differences between gender in both preferences for and perception of colors.

Color Perception

Color perception

Men often refer to themselves as “color-impaired”: they let women choose colors for their home interior design they live in and even clothes they wear.

Do men and women really see the world differently? Scientists have found that most women’s eyes have a bit different (and a more complex) structure. It is till not clear how exactly this difference in structure may be influencing color perception though.

The higher probability among men to suffer from “color blindness” is another factor that allows to suggest the genetic differences in color perception. In 2006 in the United States, about 7 % of men (which accounts for 10.5 million men) and only 0.4 % of women either could not distinguish red from green, or saw red and green differently.

Prevalence of color blindness:

Men Women
Red – Green 7 to 10%
Dichromacy (one of the three basic color mechanisms is absent or not functioning) 2.4 % 0.03%
Anomalous Trichromacy (inability to perceive differences between some of the colors) 6.3 % 0.37%

Color Variety

Others believe that color perception is more about “paying attention” than any genetic differences. Women just care more about the colors (like about anything else under the sun) than men do.

To prove that theory, here’s another survey result. Girls have been found to know and distinguish many more colors than men which represents the following infographic:

Color variety: men versus women

The fact is, women are generally more color-conscious.

Favorite Colors

Favoite colors

Radeloff (1990) has found that women were more likely than men to have a favorite color (again, to prove the theory that females just care more).

Besides that, men and women have different preferences as to the color choice (as seen from the table, women’s color tastes are more flexible and diverse):

Men’s Favorite Colors Women’s Favorite Colors
Blue Blue
Green Green
Black Turquoise

The table is courtesy of Live Silver Prices

Other preferences:

  • Women prefer tints more than shades (Guilford and Smith (1959))
  • Men tend to prefer stronger chromas than women (Plater (1967))

So what do you think? Do we really see colors differently or is that just the matter of attention?

Post images by Pink Sherbet Photography and visualpanic

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  1. Ahmed Elsaid
    May 25, 2011 at 5:51 am — Reply

    men from mars women from venus… Yes we are completely different

  2. May 27, 2011 at 4:11 pm — Reply

    As a graphic designer, I see SOO much of this! There actually is a SCIENCE to color. Different colors do emote different emotions whether known or unknown to the viewer.

  3. Muskan
    June 15, 2011 at 4:53 am — Reply

    In my opinion Men and Women are two entirely different people.
    Absolutely they see different colors.I think that’s how they are attracted towards each other.

  4. anomaly
    September 1, 2011 at 11:57 pm — Reply

    I believe this is pseudo science, not because it’s false but because the reasons are not listed. Women may be more attentive to color because as growing up they are exposed to more activities and culture with color, just make up alone has dozens of colors – while men / boys toys dont go beyond primary set of colors. Human brain is shaped, not created already preloaded with the abilities

  5. J
    September 10, 2011 at 1:40 am — Reply

    well, i came to this site to get an answer so I’m now know it’s YES for sure. I’m also wondering about patterns of colors like woven rugs and shirts. Women are more intense meaning and movement makers. Wear less black and more gay colors if you wear solids, got it.

  6. October 15, 2011 at 11:24 am — Reply

    It could very well be the case. I know that most men I know have no taste in colour or clothing, but it could just be our culture. (Italian nad Japanese men, for instance, are known to colour coordinate very well!)

  7. You all are stupid *Author too*
    October 22, 2011 at 7:58 am — Reply

    They do not see different colors they only name them differently. We distinguish the colors but we do not give them different names because that would just leave way too many names and it would get ridiculous.. Obviously none of you are men and do not recognize this notion,

  8. February 3, 2012 at 12:24 pm — Reply

    There is no doubt in my mind that men and women perceive colour differently, how much is genetic and how much is due to social conditioning it seems is still up to debate but don’t use this to justify misandry. Twice in this article you’ve claimed that because women “care” more about colour men MUST care less about other things as well. Stick to the issue you sexist bitch.

  9. April 2, 2012 at 10:22 pm — Reply

    Reading this, I totally understand everything they are saying, because I see it every day, dealing with customers. Yet, I’m a guy, who happens to be good with colour, well beyond most of my female clients. Funny thing is, I’m just a schmuck who fell into the place where I own a paint store, so suddenly I care about colour. I think the caring argument is much stronger than any physiological difference.

  10. […] are some general associations of colours found on this website, which are used in (e)-commerce and web design a lot. You will probably recognize […]

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