Females Distinguish Colors Better While Men Excel At Tracking Fast Moving Objects


Females excel in color discrimination, while males are better at tracking fast-moving objects and discerning distant details.

After having put young adults with normal vision through a battery of tests, scientists were able to conclude that females are better at discriminating among colors, while males excel at tracking fast-moving objects and discerning detail from a distance. These evolutionary adaptations might be linked to the hunter-gatherer past of humans.

The scientists published their findings in the journal Biology of Sex Differences. Israel Abramov, lead author and psychologist at Brooklyn College, performed the color experiments, finding that men and women tend to ascribe different shades to the same objects.


Males require a slightly longer wavelength than females to experience the same hue. Longer wavelengths are associated with warmer colors, implying that colors like orange might appear redder to a man than a woman. Likewise, green appears a bit yellower to men than women. Men are also less adept at distinguishing among the shades in the center of the color spectrum, like blues, greens, and yellows.

Men could detect quick-changing details from afar, and could track thinner, faster-flashing bars within a bank of blinking lights. The team associates this evolutionary advantage down to neuron development in the visual cortex, which is boosted by male hormones. Testosterone means that males are born with 25% more neurons in this brain region than women.

The findings support the hunter-gatherer hypothesis, which states that the sexes evolved distinct psychological abilities to fit their roles in prehistoric society. The advantage would have allowed males to detect predators or prey from afar, and identify as well as categorize these objects more easily.

Female gatherers may have become better adapted at recognizing static objects like wild berries.


“Sex & vision I: Spatio-temporal resolution” by Israel Abramov, James Gordon, Olga Feldman and Alla Chavarga, 4 September 2012, Biology of Sex Differences.
DOI: 10.1186/2042-6410-3-20

“Sex and vision II: color appearance of monochromatic lights” by Israel Abramov, James Gordon, Olga Feldman and Alla Chavarga, 4 September 2012, Biology of Sex Differences.
DOI: 10.1186/2042-6410-3-21

13 Comments on "Females Distinguish Colors Better While Men Excel At Tracking Fast Moving Objects"

  1. Madanagopal.V.C. | October 2, 2012 at 8:53 am | Reply

    Colour blindness is a gift of females to men only in as much as they are carriers alone. They will always have another copy of X chromosome with right set up to be picked up. Their genetic make up for the rods and cones are also finely tuned to get sharp colours with short wavelenghths. Let us hope that they don`t posses eagle`s vision or reptile`s vision to spot ultraviolet light also. Even audition is sharper for ladies just like their voices being shrill. It is all in the genetic make up. After all Eve was born prior to Adam as far as evolution is concerned and they are seniors and longevity is also more. Thank You.

    • Adam & Eve was a made up story just like most of the Bible – science has proven that already, only stubborn – religious fanatics still believe it. So your comment about Eve has no credibility.

      • Wow, ignorant much? Their comment about Eve is not even related to the Biblical story about Eve since they say “Eve was born prior to Adam as far as EVOLUTION is concerned.” In the Biblical story, Adam was born first. They’re using Adam and Eve as symbolic figures of the male and female genders and referring to the evolutionary explanation.

        I can’t believe I even took the time to explain that to you.

  2. old news, also, its just a theory, one that is flawed for several reasons, perception of photons into color isn’t simply male to female in comparison, its person to person, the perception is also relative, and thus doesn’t matter, and the hue differences between individuals is minor and an orange apple or a red apple is just as easy to spot, and i have seen some badass female gamers before that gave me a run for my money in things like soul calibur 4 and halo reach, both of which require tracking very fast movements to be good at, and some of these girls were pro, some were horrible at playing mind you, but so were the same ratio of guys (not that statistics have any validity anyway do to variables of location having differently skilled people of different odds), also it could be argued that color ratios would be far more important in hunting than they are in gathering, since camouflaged predators and prey run away and hide, and fruit doesn’t… or rather it could be argued, if evolution were actually a form of design, but its not, evolution is not designed with any purpose, it just happens chaotically and constantly via chemical reactions, and whichever traits happen to survive best, pass on genes, so any theory that suggests any specific purpose for any specific trait is ridiculous as no trait is directly designed for anything, it just happened to do well or not at whatever random task/s and why it survived is impossible to know outside of seeing it, and even then, mostly vestigial traits exist that are often used at later times, also someone may see more shades of one color but less shades of another, cuz colors are perception of photons at different wavelengths, and aren’t tangible objects, so it could be argued that to see color A you must be blind in color B as the wavelengths are different, stating that even if a male to female difference existed, both would be better and worse at seeing colors,just different ones. it could also be argued that human to other species comparison could have the same result. all i know is i have seen color wheels made by female artists, ones showing lines and labels saying what shade is what, and i can see the difference in every color, and i’m male with a full fledged beard sooo… yeah… there goes that theory.

    • Male humans have 25% more neurons in [the categories germane to this article] than female humans.

      Are you arguing that? On what grounds?

      _Why_ male and female dimorphism exist in this category is a matter of *schools of thought* debates for the naturalist department. (Sexual dimorphism can be seen systemically –throughout the whole– in most creatures where sexual dimorphism occurred… duh. Eg vertebrates.)

      You challenge here the school of thought [“hunter gather”] this article appealed to as a REASON for the dimorphism. Fine. But you are trying to make THAT challenge seem like it challenges the 25% difference itself.

      Your technique of challenge saying “[I know dames who do and males who don’t]” (a common standard technique when talking about human gender) belies your tendency to use _anecdote_ and to not get how ‘bell curve’ normalization* works. Ie there are *mode averages* seen even in complicated sets (like a modern _technology bred_ human population). (…Note that the fact there are chihuahua now does not demonstrate much about the morphological development –“evolution”– of mode average** wolves. [**Ie the type naturally selected most often from a litter of variants once.]

      • Joe is just argueing a very valid point – that yes, in general there may be an advantage, but that doesn’t mean that there are no men who are as good or better than women at color perception – There are plenty of great artists and painters throughout history who happened to be men, and there are also plenty of professional women athletes ( LPGA and WNBA ) who are better than most average men at sports such as golf or basketball. So not every man is better at sports and detecting fast moving objects than every women, and not all women are better than every man at detecting colors or being great designers (there are some men designers that are better than women – I’ve seen plenty of women with bad taste or color perception)

  3. Madanagopal.V.C. | October 3, 2012 at 6:09 am | Reply

    Sorry dear. I am speaking about the pure science which even a high school student of biology knows that sex chromosome related diseases are,1.Thallasemia,(which was predominant in the British Royal Line) among kings, 2.Male Alopacea which denotes predominant male baldness, and 3.Color blindness for which women happen only to pass on to their male progeny.This is purely because male combination of XY sex chromosome, contains only one X and in Y chromosome, the strand is actually withered to practically X being truncated to Y literally, thereby losing some of the copies of genes mentioned above. Hence with only one copy of X holding the said genes, if they are good then it is okay, but otherwise with a defective gene there is no choice for choosing better one unlike women who has two X chromosomes in their XX combination. The exceptions are the fortunate ones to get only the good X chromosome. Moreover, with regard to cones and rods of retina, it should be noted that horse like animals have got only two types of cones Blue and Green so that they are born colour blind. The fish has got only one cone namely blue and it is having only black and white TV which is enough. In human beings all th three cones Red, Blue, and Green operate to get a full collour vision. Red cone doesn`t mean that it will receive the long wave lengths of Red only. It receives all but it is sensitive only to Red wave length. The case is same for other cones. As you have mentioned it is based on adaptation and necessity of evolution only. What is discussed in the article is not that women are more brilliant in sight but the case of frequency of wave lenght of photons in Red region, Green region and Blue region where they are more sensitized for relative higher frequency in the band when compared to men. You should note that they speak in higher frequency in ladies shrill voice which men have lost bu testerone in their adoloscent stage. Similarly their hearing capacity is also a bit more in high frequency region. The frequency gain for women is only marginal from that of men. The same frequency will differ completely for predators to be sensitized by high frequency ultra-violet rays. It magnifies their acuity eventhough they don`t have so many rods in their retina. Women`s genetic make-up is thus very little modified from men by evolution. Mendel`s geneetics talks of only percentage of normal to abnorbal and does not anywhere rule out abnormal ladies or abnormal males. Thank You.

    • sorry but no on a few things, evolution dictates that normal does not exist, test groups cannot ever reliably represent a species, and male pattern baldness is from excess sebum, fungus and poor nutrition making testosterone convert into estrogen and has nothing to do with male chromosomes, just crappy health, and if i lucked out with a good x chromosome, that reliably, approximately only an estimated half a men are color blind, but truthfully, i don’t know a single guy that cant point out what colors i see, or what any women sees, not trying to argue needlessly, just stating the research has flaws when assuming certain things are true as a base line.

  4. also,many fish see in color, some fish even see in infra red, and many use colorful photophores or scales for attracting mates or attracting prey or showing they are toxic.

  5. Madanagopal.V.C. | October 8, 2012 at 7:24 am | Reply

    Dear Sir, I want to point out two things referring your comments. First of all infra-red is not a colour. Again using colorful photophores or scales doesn`t mean that their vision is tri-coloured. It is only an adaptation for survival and escaping tactics from predators which are all in the gentic make up adaptation for survival. They have the colours on the body but they don`t see them in colour. The colours are seen only in black and white in different shades. Vison is completely a different department. Secondly, male type alolpacea , I mean only the baldnes of the scalp which is obviously predominant among many males and expressing more and more because of reduced selection of faulty X-chromosome and Y lacking in the SRY zone some of the SOX genees missing. Testosterone failure may be true but its production is only genetic. Moreover only growing of moustaches and beards are the department of Testosterone concerned. Little portion of testosterone in females also cause formation of pubic and arm-pit hairs. Scalp hair is completely taking a different route and just depends of sex chromosomes insuffeciency only. By the by nobody will accept that he is colour blind because from the birth he sees the tree leaves as brown only and calls this shade of brown to be green. His acuity in distinguihing colours may be alright but he is unlucky to see in true colours and sees them in only two colour shades and learnt like that. Who said that colour blind males are very few but they are considerably present though not in majority like left handedness. Thank You.

    • Madanagopal – please see my comment above. Common sense shows that there are exceptions to the rule, that is what we are saying. Not every man is less able to perceive colors than the average women, and not all women are less deficient at perceiving fast moving objects and exceling at sports than the average man.

      That is why there are some professionals and geniuses that include men in the fashion & color industry that are more capable of recognizing and distinguishing colors than the average women. Rigid stereotypes, even if supported by science, do not always hold true for some random individuals. That is a fact of reality. So Thank You.

  6. Madanagopal.V.C | January 10, 2014 at 6:40 am | Reply

    Hello! Mr.anonymous1. By saying that Eve was born before Adam, I am surprised that you take it in the literal sense. You should have a scientific sense and understand that Eve and Adam means women and men only and the name is only symbolic and nothing to do with Bible. This is because X chromosome is longer than Y chromosome and it definitely means that it has withered a part of its strand in evolution and became Y which is the Men related gene. The withering is conspicuous in losing gene responsible for scalp hair, color cone representing gene and Thalasemea or blood clotting gene in men who always suffer with these diseases if their XY combination has got a defective X from their mother who is not herself affected because her other X in XX which will be normal may compensate. Only if both the X of XX are defective which is very rare women will suffer from these diseases. Thus color cone of the retina is also a product of this X gene from women. Thank You.

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