Differences may be rooted in hunting, gathering.
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. The evolutionary adaptations possibly linked to our hunter-gatherer past.
In color experiments the men and women tended to ascribe different shades to the same objects. The researchers think they know why.
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.
A study showed “significantly greater sensitivity for fine detail and for rapidly moving stimuli. The researchers wrote that their hunter forebears would have to detect possible predators or prey from afar. They also identify and categorize these objects more easily. They 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.
Researchers put this advantage down to neuron development in the visual cortex, which they boosted by masculine hormones. Since males are flush with testosterone they’re born with 25 percent more neurons in this brain region than females.
Evolution at Work?
The vision findings support the so-called hunter-gatherer hypothesis. It argues that the sexes evolved distinct psychological abilities to fit their prehistoric roles.
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.”
Meanwhile, the vision of female “gatherers” may have become better adapted recognizing close-at-hand, static objects such as wild berries.
But when it comes to noticing subtle differences among shades of a color, women do tend to come out on top.
“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. Females are definitely much better than males.”