Men and Women See the World Differently – the Proof in Black and White. Or is that Ivory? Ecru? I don’t know …

Science once again comes through to “definitively” prove what we all knew (or felt we knew): that women are in fact better at distinguishing subtle color variations than men, and (depending on how you read the research) can actually see more wavelengths (read: shades) of color in a given light condition. This month’s Smithsonian shares the results of research conducted by neuroscientists at the City University of New York, and while no surprise, I believe it provides additional impetus to learn the science about why we’re different. It is much easier (for me, anyway) to work from some basis of fact rather than just accept, “Oh that is just how he/she is!” After all, greater knowledge ideally leads to better understanding. Spoiler alert: it probably has to do with hormones.


Four colors here, really. Red, yellow, green, and blue.

For my sanity (and that of my wife), I had given up on arguing about what color an object/article of clothing was a long time ago and simply accepted the color that she (or any other female) indicated for that item. More importantly, I learned never to dress our children (when the were still the age of having to be dressed) entirely in “one color”. Apparently, “one color” to me was not “one color” to her, but in fact a horrific mish-mash of hues which displeased her greatly. Looked fine to me. Know we know why.


Wait! Is that … A DOUBLE RAINBOW!?!?!

Now this research is not all bad news for the fellas (if bad news means you can’t tell blue from … not blue). Men are apparently better at discerning objects moving across our field of view, which in my humble opinion is a ton more useful than knowing the difference between red and … not red. Behold Agent Smith (from The Matrix) dodging bullets below. His superior ability to see things moving in his field of vision allowed him to not get shot (never mind that he was some sort of sentient computer program/virus):

agent Smith

Seeing stuff moving is important.

Thus I am ready to declare that despite researchers saying that neither of these differences imparts a particular advantage to either sex, seeing things moving in your field of view is WAAAAY better than being able to tell green from … not green. I mean really, when would being able to see the exact color be that important.


Oh. Colors might be important here. Especially if there were more wires.

Okay – when defusing a bomb, colors might be important. Or when identifying poisonous plants. Or dangerous reptiles. Or under-cooked meat. Or lots of things. Got it.

The point is we all see the world a bit differently from each other for a variety of reasons, and not all of them (in fact very few of them) are “scientifically” based. This doesn’t make one person’s observation less valid than someone else’s, but it can lead to plenty of confusion when folks aren’t sharing the reasons for their point of view or taking the time to be curious and find out where somebody is coming from. It’s not about attacking or defending a position, but sharing perspectives. When you don’t try to make it black and white, it’s a lot easier to see (and appreciate) the full spectrum of ideas and possibilities that are out there.




photo credits:

Colored Pencils – shewatchedthesky via photopin cc

Double Rainbow on Sidewalk – Cle0patra via photopin cc

Agent Smith gif –

Bomb –



2 thoughts on “Men and Women See the World Differently – the Proof in Black and White. Or is that Ivory? Ecru? I don’t know …

  1. Pingback: Why Dissonance Resonates, the Road to Abilene, and Lying to Yourself (and others!) | Semper Felix

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