Fuchsia, Mauve, Puce, and Teal: Ain’t nobody got time for that.

… Well, at least not if you’re a guy. That’s the conventional wisdom, right?


So, conventional wisdom would dictate that if you’re a guy, you’ll score very poorly on this test:


Try it if you’re curious – it’s an interesting experiment.

I expected to fail miserably; my wife is always telling me I can’t tell the difference between red, maroon, magenta, and… what was the name of that color?

Well, as it turns out, I’m on the very high end of the perception scale. Here’s what I managed to do:


My score was 8 – the lower your score, the better you did. The highest (worst) score for my gender and age range was 1970.


And this chart shows where my weaknesses lie:


So in terms of actually being able to see differences in colors, my skills are relatively good. However, in terms of being able to name them, I think that I probably fall squarely into my wife’s expectations. Except for a few odd colors, like fuchsia,


which I happen to know because I love this particular plant, I don’t have a lot of names for colors that you don’t see in the office.

There’s not only some psychology at work here, but also some linguistic theory. The languages of some simple cultures, such as Dani, only distinguish two colors: mili for cool/dark hues such as blue, green, and black, and mola for warm/light colors such as red, yellow, and white. Now, that doesn’t mean the Dani peoples can’t see these colors, but only that they don’t have specific words for them. The sky might be “sky mili”, grass might be “soft mili,” etc.

The first color to actually break out as languages increase in sophistication is red, followed by a green/blue (grue) blend, followed by the separation of grue into green and blue. There’s a whole spectrum. One could draw some rather rude conclusions about the relative sophistication of the male brain, but I think that socially, it’s more a case of need and experience. Guys don’t need to know what color that mammoth is to bring it down; as long as you can describe the jerseys of opposing football teams, you’re golden. Ladies, on the other hand… well, you would never wear a mauve top with teal shoes, now would you? These things are important.

The Old Wolf has spoken.