MadSci Network: Neuroscience

Re: Which gender remember colors better?

Date: Thu Jan 18 20:27:15 2001
Posted By: Lynn Nielsen-Bohlman, Faculty, Geriatric Psychiatry, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Area of science: Neuroscience
ID: 978919435.Ns

Since you are designing an experiment to answer this question, I can't answer it myself but can direct you to a reference article. Color memory was reported to be affected by gender in a recent article:

Joaquín Pérez-Carpinell, Rosa Baldoví, M. Dolores de Fez , José Castro. Color memory matching: Time effect and other factors. "Color Research & Application". Volume 23, Issue 4, 1998. Pages: 234-247

"The methods of simultaneous and successive, or memory, color matching have been compared for 10 color reference samples distributed in two groups each performed by 50 observers (25 men and 25 women). Our results, obtained with a total of two hundred Munsell color chips arrayed on ten gray cardboard panels, indicate that. . . the worst remembered colors are yellow, light green, blue, and pink, and the best remembered color is orange; . . . we find significant men-women differences for the remembered mean color (p < 0.05)."

If you cannot find the article, you can write the authors and ask for a copy: Joaquín Pérez-Carpinell, Depto. de Optica, Facultad de Física, Universitat de València, C/ Dr. Moliner, 50. 46100-Burjassot, Spain

José Castro, Depto. de Metodología de las Ciencias del Comportamiento, Facultad de Psicología, Universitat de València, Av. Blasco Ibañez, 21 . 46010-Valencia, Spain

or look for them on the University of València website

A Munsell chip is a a small colored square - you can see an example and find out more about it at and Munsell Tree. Why did the researchers use color ships? What would happen if one researcher used crayons to make color squares and another used markers? (You don't need to use Munsell chips, but you do need to make sure your sample colors are the same in texture, shinyness, size, and everything BUT color). Also, the word COLOR includes HUE (i.e., red, yellow, blue) VALUE or BRIGHTESS (how light or dark the color is), and CHROMA or SATURATION (how much color is in the color - how vivid the color is). Munsell talks about this at and another fun site is And if you want a discussion of the physical basis of HUE, BRIGHTESS and SATURATION, try Nicolas Holzschuch's (University of Cape Town) whole discussion of the physical basis of color perception is (8/27/2006: Former link defunct, at

Color chips may not be the best way to test color memory, though. This study suggests that people might remember GREEN better then ORANGE if they were shown GREEN GRASS and ORANGE GRASS, but ORANGE better than GREEN if they were shown ORANGE ORANGES and GREEN ORANGES: Ratner C; McCarthy J. Ecologically relevant stimuli and color memory. J Gen Psychol 1990 Oct;117(4):369-77

"Colored pictures of familiar objects were used to study color memory. We investigated the typicality of color to particular objects. Contextually typical colors were remembered more accurately than atypical colors were. Moreover, this variable had a stronger effect on memory than focality did. We concluded that memory for ecologically relevant material is more impressed by a color's relation to experience than by its intrinsic properties."

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