Men trail women in discerning shades of blue, yellow, and green, a new study says.
From National Geographic News By James Owen
Men and women really don’t see eye to eye, according to a new study.
Females are better at discriminating among colors, researchers say, while males excel at tracking fast-moving objects and discerning detail from a distance—evolutionary adaptations possibly linked to our hunter-gatherer past.
The study, led by Brooklyn College psychology professor Israel Abramov, put young adults with normal vision through a battery of tests.
In color experiments the men and women tended to ascribe different shades to the same objects. The researchers think they know why.
“Across most of the visible spectrum males require a slightly longer wavelength than do females in order to experience the same hue,” the team concludes in the latest issue of the journal Biology of Sex Differences.
Since longer wavelengths are associated with “warmer” colors, an orange, for example, may appear redder to a man than to a woman. Likewise, the grass is almost always greener to women than to men, to whom verdant objects appear a bit yellower.
(Also see “Men’s Offices Have More Bacteria, Study Finds.”)
The study also found that men are less adept at distinguishing among shades in the center of the color spectrum: blues, greens, and yellows.
Where the men shone was in detecting quick-changing details from afar, particularly by better tracking the thinner, faster-flashing bars within a bank of blinking lights.
The team puts this advantage down to neuron development in the visual cortex, which is boosted by masculine hormones. Since males are flush with testosterone, in particular, they’re born with 25 percent more neurons in this brain region than females, the team noted.
(Related: “Why Deaf Have Enhanced Vision.”)
Evolution at Work?
The vision findings support the so-called hunter-gatherer hypothesis, which argues that the sexes evolved distinct psychological abilities to fit their prehistoric roles, the team says. (See “Sex-Based Roles Gave Modern Humans an Edge, Study Says.”)
Noting that men in the study showed “significantly greater sensitivity for fine detail and for rapidly moving stimuli,” the researchers write that their hunter forebears “would have to detect possible predators or prey from afar and also identify and categorize these objects more easily.”
(See “Video Games Improve Vision, Study Says.”)
Meanwhile, the vision of female “gatherers” may have become better adapted recognizing close-at-hand, static objects such as wild berries.
John Barbur, professor of optics and visual science at City University London, noted that females are often “worse off in terms of absolute chromatic [color] sensitivity than males.”
But when it comes to noticing subtle differences among shades of a color, women do tend to come out on top, as they did in Abramov’s experiments, said Barbur, who wasn’t part of the new study.
“If you’re not dealing with the absolute sensitivity for color detection but the way in which colors are judged—such as the ability to describe a color, or what that color means, and so on,” he said, “I’d say that females are definitely much better than males.”
Why Men and Woman Can Never See Eye-to-Eye. A new study explains how men and women see differently – literally.
From Money Talks News (blog) By Karla Bowsher
Recent research has confirmed that men and women literally see the world differently. It turns out that men’s brains don’t process what their eyes see the way women’s brains do (or vice versa). Researchers from Brooklyn College and the CUNY’s Hunter College came to this conclusion after studying volunteers who were over age 16 and had normal color vision and 20/20 vision. Here’s how the National Institutes of Health summed up the researchers’ findings – which were published in the Sept. 3 issue of a journal called, of course, Biology of Sex Differences:
Men are more sensitive to fine detail and things that move rapidly, but women are better at differentiating between colors….
When the participants looked at colors across the spectrum, the researchers found that the men needed a slightly longer wavelength to detect the same hue as the women. They also had more trouble discriminating between colors in the center of the spectrum.
Men were better able to resolve images that changed rapidly. So what accounts for the difference? “Testosterone, the male sex hormone, may play a role in these differences, the researchers added.”