Does Gender Affect Color Preference?

Does Gender Affect Color Preference?

Abstract
The objective of this experiment was to determine if gender plays a role in color preference - Does Gender Affect Color Preference? introduction? In other words, do males actually prefer blue and green, while females favor pink or purple? This experiment was conducted by surveying ninety-six people, 48 males and 48 females, to complete a short survey. The survey asked them if they were color blind and whether they were male or female. They were then given five color cards (blue, green, pink, purple and yellow) and ordered the sample colors from their favorite to least favorite on a scale of 1-5.

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The hypothesis was that the majority of males would prefer blue, while females were evenly distributed between blue and pink; overall blue would be the most preferred color. The null hypothesis was that this is no significant difference in color preference of males and females.

Introduction
At some point in time we have all assumed someone was a certain gender based on the color of something they have on them. Why is it that blue is always associated with boys, as pink is for girls? This study was done to see if color preference actually is affected by gender. In other words, to show if females really favor pink and males prefer blue. The hypothesis states that most boys will choose blue as there favorite, while girls will be more evenly distributed between pink and blue; overall blue will be the most preferred color.

Color is defined in the Encarta Dictionary as a property which causes visual sensation; the property of objects that depends on the light that they reflect and this is perceived as red, blue, green, or other shades. Sir Isaac Newton laid a scientific foundation for color when he first experimented with a prism in 1666. White light is dispersed by a prism, such as the one Newton used. The prism resolves the beam of white light into its
colored components, known as the spectrum. (Lovell, 1988) Newton named the seven main colors within the spectrum (red, orange, yellow, green, and blue, indigo, violet). Although these are the only ones Newton chose to acknowledge and name, he did note that others existed in the universe. (Hallock, 2003)

People are exposed to color everyday, in every aspect of their lives. It has been suggested through studies done that most children under age five prefer bright, primary colors, such as red, blue, and yellow, more than any others. Not only age, but other factors such as ethnicity, personal history and gender affect our color preference. For example, while Americans brides choose to wear white for their wedding and black to funerals, Asians are just the opposite; choosing black on their wedding day and white for funerals. Professor Fisher, in 2004, said that color affects human beings in many ways, on both the conscious and subconscious levels, every day of our lives. As Professor Fisher stated, color affects us so many times a day, that often times we don’t even realized it’s happening. Think about all the things you have done today, that in someway involved color. For example, think of a stoplight and what each color on it means; without those colors we would not have the technology of a stoplight and therefore our everyday driving wouldn’t be quite as easy.

Most people do not see color as simply the way something looks, however. They tend to associate certain colors with specific feelings, emotions and memories. (Dmitrieva) For instance, blue is most commonly associated with “feeling blue” meaning one feels upset or depressed, however, blue is considered to be a “cool, calming color”; the color green is used to show one’s envy and jealousy, while it is also considered to be lucky. The cause of most color associations is due to stories passed down, things we hear in the media, and the products we buy everyday. When we see or think about a certain color it produces a certain reaction in our minds. This reaction eventually becomes a regular part of our thought process where this color is involved and over time the association becomes natural and expands to others.

Color urges us to pay more attention to advertisements, products, signs, and
other such things. A study has shown that ads produced in color will be read 42% more often then those in black and white. (White, 1997) In 2003 the Xerox Corporation conducted a study that suggested that color presents an image of impressive quality, assists in attracting new customers, and causes customers to better remember presentations and documents in which color is used. This may lead one to think that this may be why some teachers choose to print their students’ important notes on different colors of paper.

Color may seem simple enough, but it’s actually a very complex subject. Colors are specified to a two-dimensional chart, called the CIE chromaticity diagram. This shows the relations among the different variables which produce the luminance of a specific color. The chromaticity diagram is a very opportune tool for those studying colors and its different properties. Among its many convenient features is the fact that it can single out a single color, so it is not distorted by its surroundings and lighting. (Boynton, 1987)

Method and Materials
A simple survey was created asking the participants if they were color blind and whether they were male or female. The surveys were given to 100 people, fifty males and fifty females. They were asked to complete the survey and then shown five color cards, representing the colors blue, purple, yellow, pink and green. Each person ranked the colors from 1-5; 1 being their favorite and 5 being their least favorite.

Participants were mostly students and teachers of Carroll County High School, as well as a few others. Each person signed a human consent form, which was signed before they were given their survey. Of the 100 surveys that were handed out, ninety six of them were received at the end of the study.

Results
After completing this experiment the results for both males and females were put into a spreadsheet. Since participants were asked to rate the colors from 1-5, those numbers were entered into the spreadsheet in a particular
order and the average of them was determined. The averages showed that both boys and girls choose blue most often. While there were generally about a one point difference in the preferred colors of males, females were fairly evenly distributed through all colors. However, blue was still the most favored of the whole group. Males chose pink as their least favorite the majority of the time, while females choose yellow the least.

The null hypothesis stated that there was no significant difference in color preference of males and females. There is sufficient evidence to reject the null hypothesis for the colors purple, blue, and yellow. However, we can not reject the null hypothesis for the color pink and green because they have a p-value that is below .05.

Discussion and Conclusions

Literature Cited
Boynton, R.M. 1987. Color. In McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology (Vol. 4, 165-166) McGraw-Hill, Inc.

Dmitrieva, Olga. 2002. Color associations. (22 January 2009)

Encarta world English dictionary. 1st ed. Vol. I 1999. St Martin’s Press, New York.

Fisher, Jeanette. 2006. Color help: many factors affect color preference. (21 January 2009)

Hallock, Joe. 2003. Color assignment. (20 January 2009)

Lovell, D.J. 1988. Color. In Academic American Encyclopedia (Vol. 5, 112-113) Grolier Inc., Connecticut.

White, Jan. 2007. Why color matters. (20 January 2009)

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