Delighted to see Bad Science has soundly rubbished the “girls like pink, boys like blue” nonsense that has been in the media this week.
Some neuroscience research involving a couple of hundred subjects showed that female colour preferences were slightly to the redder end of the spectrum. From which the media oddly extrapolated that this proved women preferred pink for evolutionary reasons relating to hunting and gathering skills.
Ben Goldacre, a Zoe Williams piece in the Guardian and some commenters on Bad Science have all done a great job of pointing out the flaws in this.
Most tellingly, Goldacre pointed out that colour-gender identification changes according to the cultural context. E.g. A century ago, pink was considered most suitable for boys and blue was the girly colour. In Chinese culture, where red is greatly valued, both sexes prefer reddish colours. And so on.
From birth, we are assailed by cues telling us that pink means “feminity” and blue means “masculinity”. Go to any toy store. A pink mist will rise up before your eyes when you get near the girls’ toys. Amazing that any girls can resist a general preference for pink over blue.
You could almost argue that the fact that the colour preference differences were so tiny – given the social pressure to identify pink as girly – that girls really may have an evolutionary aversion to pink…..
The media’s usual pop science distortions fall into a predictable pattern when research relates to gender. Any statistical difference between men and women that fits current prejudices is exaggerated, generalised to all men and women, then treated as indicative of innate biological difference.
Surpise, surprise, they all tend to support a view of women exemplified by a more docile version of Paris Hilton. Argh.