Perception Journal Club

Biological components of sex differences in color preference

The long history of color preference studies has been described as “bewildering, confused and contradictory” [1]. Although recent studies [1–3] tend to agree on a universal preference for ‘blue’, the variety and lack of control in measurement methods have made it difficult to extract a systematic, quantitative description of preference. Furthermore, despite abundant evidence for sex differences in other visual domains, and specifically in other tasks of color perception [4,5], there is no conclusive evidence for the existence of sex differences in color preference. This fact is perhaps surprising, given the prevalence and longevity of the notion that little girls differ from boys in preferring ‘pink’ [6]. Here we report a robust, cross- cultural sex difference in color preference, revealed by a rapid paired comparison task. Individual color preference patterns are summarized by weights on the two fundamental neural dimensions that underlie color coding in the human visual system. We find a consistent sex difference in these weights, which, we suggest, may be linked to the evolution of sex-specific behavioral uses of trichromacy.