When you’ve leafed through the ladies’ underwear racks at Mervyn’s as much as I have, you know that women love pink.
They also like white, black, red, orange, purple, lime green, white with fuschia polkadots, plus leopard, tiger, zebra and iguana, not to mention clear plastic, chain mail and shiny patent leather.
But Yazhu Ling, psychology research associate at the UK’s Newcastle University, says there’s a measurable female preference for reddish colors, programmed by evolution. Ling co-authored a study published in the science journal Current Biology (covered at Scientific American) in which 98 men and 110 women took computer tests to determine their color preferences. While both genders like blue, the women showed a distinct fondness for reddish colors.
Ling offered the speculation that this comes from hunger-gatherer societies:
“The female, as gatherer, had to pick reddish fruits against green leafy backgrounds, therefore a preference for red against green may have benefited their food gathering and thus gained them evolutionary advantage,” she says. “Evolution may also drive females to prefer redder faces (male faces are ruddier than female faces across all races). A reddish face often [means] good health; this may be a good cue to help the females to select mates.”
Hey… red faces? I always wondered why chicks dig guys who eat all those little blue breath mints.
Interestingly, 37 members of Ling’s sample were recent immigrants from China; men in that group showed a stronger preference for reddish colors than other men in the sample. In China, the color red has strong associations with happiness, luck, celebration and prosperity.
Image from Jim’s Gun Supply.