For Women, Grass is Greener
Speaking with GEN earlier this month, the study’s corresponding author Israel Abramov, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Brooklyn and Hunter Colleges, said he could not venture what relationship, if any, the vision differences between the sexes might have with differences in the interests between men and women, such as in more contact sports or precision work by men, and in more aesthetic or creative disciplines by women.
“We cannot say how our results might underlie such differences,” said Dr. Abramov, who is also professor of cognition, brain and behavior, and professor of biopsychology and behavioral neuroscience, both at the CUNY Graduate Center.
“All we argue is that any higher functions must be limited by the information provided by the earlier, basic information—we are measuring events at the very early stages of processing by visual components in the brain’s cortex. These responses can be thought of as filters through which information about any image must pass,” Dr. Abramov added.
The study’s findings explain why women are likelier to see grass greener than do men, since green vision in males includes more of the longer-wavelength yellow. Or why when men see an orange, it takes in more of a hint of the color with the next longest wavelength, red.
It may not be an accident, then, that most men’s fashion items revolve around short-wavelength dark blue and three shades without wavelengths, black, white, and gray. Mens’ fashion blogs play up the color gender gap: “One of the things guys ask me all the time is how to match one’s clothes. This question pertains mostly to colors because that’s where us men have the biggest problems,” George Lazar wrote in a 2010 post on BeStylish!
Behind the gap is something more serious. According to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 7% of men are color blind, compared with 0.4% of women.