Tuesday, 21 August 2007

girls _really_ do like pink

this has turned up in a couple of places, eg new scientist and guardian websites.

A couple of researchers at Newcastle University in the UK tested what colours people like best. Interestingly most people liked blue best but there was a strong prefernce among women for pink and pink-like colours. This also seems to be culture independent as they also reran the test on a group of Chinese migrants who grew up at a time when pink girlie things were not widely available, if at all in China, and they showed the same preference mix.

The hypothesis is

  • in a hunter gathering society women do most of the gathering. Liking pink may give an advantage when selecting the riper fruits and berries, and we do know that there is a strong preference for red and possible evolutionary reasons for it. (see my posts here and here)

  • the preference for blue could go back to when we were savannah dwelling apes and the bright blue sky meant good weather and blue water was possibly good clean water. Well it's an idea anyway, if not quite as convincing as the pink preference hypothesis

There's at least one thought experiment here - do traditional desert dwelling Australian Aborigines have the same preferences? Or only one of them?

It would be really interesting if for instance the female preference for pink was demonstrated but not the overall liking for blue?

Why? Well the interior of Australia is hot dry and red, a hot relenting blue sky signifies drought and there isn't a lot of water around. Yet the ancestors of the peoples who became both the Han Chinese and the races of western Europe speaking Aryan languages (and Turkic speakers for that matter) all started out on the central Asian steppe where a blue warm sky meant warmth and good weather.

And I guess it might also explain the Chinese belief that read was a lucky colour, the colour of prosperity.

Certainly some interesting hypotheses to play with ...

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