Jezebel has a nicely sardonic post about the Daily Mail's coverage of a study by Chinese researchers published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences called, "Could sex differences in color preference and its personality correlates fit into social theories? Let Chinese university students tell you." The researchers interviewed 359 college students for a few minutes on their color preferences and used those answers to support their a priori conclusion that, because of an ancestral pattern of hunting and foraging, women have specialized brains for identifying ripe fruit and men key into blue because of the correlation between clear skies and good hunting. The abstract, in full (the article is behind a pay wall or library access):
The unclear picture of the sex difference in color preference might result from personality variations. We invited 359 Chinese university students (166 men and 193 women) to undergo a color preference test and the Zuckerman-Kuhlman Personality Questionnaire (ZKPQ), a five-factor model test. Depressive trends were measured by the Plutchik-van Praag Depression Inventory (PVP). There was no significant difference between men and women regarding either ZKPQ or PVP scale scores. However, men preferred blue and green significantly more, and their preference order of yellow was negatively correlated with ZKPQ Sociability. Women preferred purple, pink and white significantly more, their preference order of gray was positively correlated with Neuroticism-Anxiety, and the order of orange negatively with Aggression-Hostility. Our results suggest that, partly from a biological layout, men as hunters and women as gatherers prefer some different colors on the one hand, but from a social structural layout, they might try to adjust some personality traits by preferring other colors on the other, in order to attain a sex-equality but polychromatic world.
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- Gordon, Slade & Schmitt. 1987. Student guinea pigs: porcine predictors and particularistic phenomena. The Academy of Management Review 12(1): 160-3.
- He et al. In press. Could sex difference in color preference and its personality correlates fit into social theories? Let Chinese university students tell you. Personality and Individual Differences.
- R.A. Peterson. 2001. On the use of college students in social science research: insights from a second-order meta-analysis. The Journal of Consumer Research 28(3): 450-61.