Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 393–397

Children’s Gender and Parents’ Color Preferences

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10508-012-9951-5

Cite this article as:
Cohen, P.N. Arch Sex Behav (2013) 42: 393. doi:10.1007/s10508-012-9951-5


Gender differences in color preferences have been found in adults and children, but they remain unexplained. This study asks whether the gendered social environment in adulthood affects parents’ color preferences. The analysis used the gender of children to represent one aspect of the gendered social environment. Because having male versus female children in the U.S. is generally randomly distributed, it provides something of a natural experiment, offering evidence about the social construction of gender in adulthood. The participants were 749 adults with children who responded to an online survey invitation, asking “What’s your favorite color?” Men were more likely to prefer blue, while women were more likely to prefer red, purple, and pink, consistent with long-standing U.S. patterns. The effect of having only sons was to widen the existing gender differences between men and women, increasing the odds that men prefer blue while reducing the odds that women do; and a marginally significant effect showed women having higher odds of preferring pink when they have sons only. The results suggest that, in addition to any genetic, biological or child-socialization effects shaping adults’ tendency to segregate their color preferences by gender, the gender context of adulthood matters as well.


Sex Gender Parents Sex differences Color preference 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of Maryland, College ParkCollege ParkUSA

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