What You Thought You Knew: Men and women can see the same things.
What You Didn’t Know: It’s long been said that a big part of getting along with people is learning to “see the world through their eyes.” But according to science, doing that might be a bit harder if you and your friend are of the opposite gender.
According to numerous reports produced by institutions like the Smithsonian and National Geographic, a man’s eyes are not physiologically geared to see the same things that women see. This means that women’s eyes perceive slightly shorter wavelengths of color than men’s, so a woman is more likely to see more colors than a man does. Where a man’s eyes fail him is mostly in the middle of the spectrum, where these short wavelengths matter (in the yellows and greens). What women perceive as slightly orange, men overwhelmingly perceive as more yellow than orange. When men describe things as white, most women detect a very light brown shade called “ecru.”
This means, of course, that women also have a bigger vocabulary for expressing colors, as they distinguish fine differences in hue more readily than their male counterparts. It’s no wonder you can’t agree with your wife that the living room should be painted xanadu or gamboge. 99% chance those words were created by women….
Interestingly enough, though, just as women have an advantage over men in color perception, men are much more attentive to moving objects traveling across their field of vision. This means that a man is much more likely to be able to identify the shape, color, and details of a quickly-moving object. Some scientists attribute this to the ancient man’s need to hunt; the woman’s color focus is explained as a need that developed for her to differentiate between plant life used for medicines, food, and other things. Ironically, though, more men die in vehicle crashes each year than women, according to the IIHS. It seems that object-sensitive male vision, while useful for detail, does not affect reaction time.
Now You Know: that women see color better than men, but men see moving objects better than women.