And the preference isn't just a result of social stereotypes, pushing pink on girls and blue on boys. It's innate and occurs across cultures, claim British researchers who studied the colour preferences of 208 young adults: 171 Britons and 37 mainland Chinese.
"Although we expected to find sex differences, we were surprised at how robust they were, given the simplicity of ourtest," said visual neuroscientist Anya Hurlbert of Newcastle University at Newcastle upon Tyne.
Along with psychologist Yazhu Ling, Professor Hurlbert asked volunteers to select, as quickly as possible, their preferred colour from each of a series of paired, coloured rectangles. They reported yesterday in the journal Current Biology that the most popular colour by far was blue.
"On top of that, females have a preference for the red end ofthe red-green axis, and this shifts their colour preference slightly away from blue towards red, which tends to make pinksand lilacs the most preferred colours in comparison with others," Professor Hurlbert said.
The finding was so strong that observers could pick the sex of people based upon their colour preferences alone.
"It's a fairly nice piece of evidence," commented Rob Brooks, an evolutionary biologist with the University of NSW in Sydney.
"Anyone with a son or daughter would probably get the sense that (colour preference) is not all socialised. My little girl loves pink and I don't know where the hell it comes from," Professor Brooks said.