'People subconsciously link female names with lighter colours'
London: Scientists have found that women are really seen as the `fairer sex` since people subconsciously associate lighter colours with female names and qualities, and darker shades with more masculine attributes.
As a result, most assume that a waiter carrying two glasses of wine would almost certainly give the red to the man and the white to the woman, said Dutch psychologists.
Researcher Gun Semin from Utrecht University began by showing a group of volunteers a selection of male and female names printed on a grey background. Some were in white text and others in black.
The men and women had only three-quarters of a second to decide whether each name was male or female. The results, presented at the British Science Festival, were clear cut.
"I have never seen such a beautiful result. The male names in black were processed significantly faster than those in white. And the reverse was true for the female names. Those in the white typeface were processed much faster. It was a very strong effect," Semin said.
In another experiment, volunteers were shown adjectives before the names flashed up.
The words `soft`, `submissive` and `weak` sped up the processing of female names, while `assertive`, `strong` and `weighty` aided the sorting of male ones.
Volunteers were also asked to imagine a waiter bringing a couple`s order to the table. Eighty per cent said that if he had a glass of red wine and one of white, he would give the red to the man and the white to the woman.
Similarly, most assumed an espresso would have been ordered by the male and a cappuccino by the female.
Semin said that it seems that both sexes link brighter, lighter colours with women and darker ones with men.
"I can only speculate that there is some notion about purity. The myth has always been that virginity and purity is distinctly female, whereas males have a dark, sinister, adventurous side," Semin said.
"I don`t know what the origin of that is but the effects are unbelievably strong," Semin added.