Pink is one of my favourite colours. Generally, however, if you ask people what their favourite colour is, the most frequent response is blue irrespective of gender, age or culture. Adults, that is. Because most young girls prefer pink. There is a huge commercial machine that pushes girls towards pink and boys towards blue. I support the Pink Stinks campaign which I blogged about in 2009, but I fear its chances of success are slender.
In my 2009 I linked to a BBC article that noted that pink for girls and blue for boys was not always the case. People cite the Ladies’ Home Journal from 1918 saying:
There has been a great diversity of opinion on the subject, but the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. The reason is that pink being a more decided and stronger colour is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.
For some reason I always thought that it was the association of blue with the British Navy in the first world war that started the association of blue with boys. But today I read an article that suggests that the association did not start until the 1950s!! Apparently in 1927, Time magazine surveyed 10 major departments stores across the country about how each store associated pink and blue with boys and girls. The results showed that most children dressed in gender-neutral clothing and typically wore white because it was easy to bleach and keep clean. It wasn’t until the 1950s that pink became a female colour according to Estelle Caswell. Read all of what Estelle had to say here.
I don’t know if it is related to my recent post that people, especially females buy bright colours in times of austerity, but I just came across a report that claims that women like pink gadgets and laptops.
Dr Gloria Moss, Reader in Human Resources at Bucks New University said:
“There’s a very strong tendency for men to prefer hard, rectangular and dark shapes. While women showed a preference towards more curved, and pink design. I don’t think it’s anything for women to be afraid of that women like different colours, because the roots of the colour preference take womens’ responsibility beyond hearth and home. The differences have their origins in the different activities carried out by men and women over the ages.”
Moss used a range of website designs created by men and women to test her hypothesis amongst a sample group of students at Oxford. Men preferred linear, rectangular designs, while women preferred colourful designs with large images.
I’m a man but I also like pink. So clearly the above does not apply to all women and all men.
For balance see my post on pink stinks.
About six months ago I posted about popular car colours in Canada. Silver and grey were the most popular colours according to sales data with black not far behind. I think it would be a rather similar story in the UK. Certainly silvery grey has become very popular over the last 10 years or so. My own car is black. My last car was grey. White is not popular here – I heard that car salesman refer to the colour of second-hand white cars as “three-week white” because it takes three weeks longer to sell them than cars in other colours. Though I think the last few years has seen a slight increase in the popularity of white cars in the UK.
Anyway, according to The Color Association of the United States nine out of ten cars sold in South Korea are white, silver (grey) or black – a higher proportion for these three colours than in any other country. Apparently, white cars have the highest resale value; white is associated with families and therefore white cars are thought to have been owned by responsible family types like me and therefore will have been well maintained. (My car is definitely not well maintained.)
It’s very unusual to see a pink car in Korea – only a rebellious type would have such a car! The Wall Street Journal are currently reporting a story about such a non-conformant and feature on a Mr Park who bought a white sports car and had it painted pink. Whereas in France, the Citreon DS3 has just been launched with a fuchsia pink roof. There still remains a cultural difference where social pressure in the east urges people to fit in whereas in the west it is more about “look at me”. A japanese person once told me there is a proverb about the nail that sticks out gets hammered down.
Personally, I would love a pink car, though certainly not a Citreon. This story also reminds me that a web-based study suggests that the most frequently mis-spelled colour word in the English language is fuchsia – or is it fuschia?
Many studies have been carried out over the last century or so on colour preferences. These generally reveal some quite remarkable consistencies. For example, although there are individual differences, on average people tend to like cooler colours (blues and greens) more so than warmer colours. I have been conducting my own – just for fun – survey on these pages (see http://colourware.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/favourite-colour-poll/) for the last few months: I asked people which colour they would prefer out of green, brown, yellow, orange, black, red, pink, purple, white, grey, blue and other. So far 45% of respondents have selected blue or green.
Whether gender or cultural affect colour preferences is more controversial although many studies have indicated that they may. The most significant work I know of in this regard is that published in Current Biology (2007) by a team lead by Anya Hurlbert of Newcastle University that adds substantial weight to the idea that there are statistically significant differences in colour preferences between males and females. Hurlbert’s team found that females prefer redder blues (tending towards pinks and red) than males. It is also suggested that the gender differences result from biological rather than cultural factors. Perhaps evolution favoured females who were better able to discriminate between ripe and unripe fruit or who could better discriminate between colours of faces.
If you are interested in this you may like to take part in a new global colour survey being carried out by one of my PhD students. You can see the survey here – https://www.keysurvey.co.uk/survey/365495/1a02/
Cricket authorities have been experimenting with pink cricket balls. A cricket match in Abu Dhabi used new pink cricket balls for a game that took place under floodlights.
The argument is that the traditional red ball used in cricket, being of a relatively deep shade is hard to see under night conditions even with floodlights. The recent experiments seem to have been a success. John Stephenson, Head of Cricket at MCC (the world’s most famous cricket club), said “We have proved that the pink ball is clearly visible in day or night conditions and that day/night first-class cricket is a viable option for cricket administrators. Certainly the pink ball itself could be improved – such as by darkening the seam so batsmen can pick up the spinning delivery – but I don’t see an insurmountable block to progress.”
It’s not a view necessarily shared by the ICC though. The ICC is the International Cricket Council. “The MCC has been great in initiating trials around the world, but before we look at these projects we need to establish up front, from a scientific point of view, what makes sense,” said Dave Richardson, the ICC’s general manager of cricket. “The balls that have been developed so far are still a long way off being able to last 80 overs,” he added. “They just get too dirty. The beauty of the red ball is that it keeps its colour even when it’s old.”
The ball shown below is a pink ball after 14 overs (that’s 96 deliveries for the non-cricket-aware colour lovers).
For further information see – http://tinyurl.com/yhak2g5
A pink ball was used for the first time in a match in England on 21 April 2008 in a match between an MCC XI and Scotland. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/7352516.stm
PinkStinks (http://www.pinkstinks.co.uk/) is a campaign and social enterprise that challenges the culture of pink which invades every aspect of girls’ lives. The campaign has been running for 18 months and activists argue that while a wide variety of boys’ toys are available, those for girls are often predominantly pink. They argue that body image obsession is starting younger and younger, and that the seeds are sown during the pink stage, as young girls are taught the boundaries within which they will grow up, as well as narrow and damaging messages about what it is to be a girl.
It’s interesting that the notion of pink for girls and blue for boys has not always been so. A recent article on the BBC web site claims that in 1918 the Ladies’ Home Journal included the statement: “There has been a great diversity of opinion on the subject, but the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. The reason is that pink being a more decided and stronger colour is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.” For more see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8401742.stm.