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

Written by Kate

Our guests blog on a wide variety of topics including inspiration and photography!


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