Archive | December, 2011

Critique of Research towards Sex Differences in Colour Preference

16 Dec

The journal article ‘Biological components of sex differences in color preference’ by Hurlbert and Ling investigates colour preferences of males and female. It supplies evidence towards the idea that boys prefer the colour blue and girls the colour pink. It does not do any research into the reason why. The part of the title, ‘biological components’, is not relevant to the information that they studied. There is the suggestion in the article about the reason for these colour preferences being the hunter- gatherer theory, but no research was done to find the validity of this.

The hunter- gatherer theory is the idea that female’s brains are more specialized to do gathering. So they will be able to pick out bright, ripe fruit, easier than males. This could explain why they prefer pink. It suggests that males prefer blue, as this is the colour of clean water and a clear sky. All that Hurlbert and Ling discovered was in fact that female did prefer pink, and males blue. This, for me personally, is not breaking news, or amazing findings. It is just scientific proof, for a theory. One which is already assumed as true.

The title of the 2007 Sunday Times article ‘At last, science discovers why blue is for boys but girls really do prefer pink’ is not accurate to the study findings. In fact, it is not at all accurate. The study did no research what so ever on the reasons why boys prefer blue and girls pink. The Sunday Times journal suggests that there was research into the reason why boys and girls prefer different colours. This was not the case, there was merely a suggestion at the end of the research report stating that there was a theory, the hunter – gatherer theory, which could help to explain the results that they obtained.

The media report explains the hunter- gatherer theory as if it was new information. It suggests the idea that it is a new scientific breakthrough. When in fact the hunter- gatherer theory is not what Hurlbert and Ling’s research was about at all. This shows how the media exaggerates information to make it more appealing and interesting for the public to read. Both the headlines imply that the reason why boys prefer blue and girls prefer pink was discovered. This is not warranted at all.



Henderson, M. (August 21, 2007). At last, science discovers why blue is for boys but girls really do prefer pink.

The Times. Hurlbert, A. C. &; Ling, Y. (2007). Biological components of sex differences in color preference. Current Biology, 17(16).


‘Video games cause violence’

1 Dec

Video games commonly involve controversial, ‘interesting’ topics. Things such as sex, drugs, crime, fighting, wars, nudity and racism are often found in video games. It seems obvious that these games could influence children, potentially causing aggression as they idolise their on screen avatar. For years the issue of video games causing violence has been debated in the media.

MRI scans on children’s brains after playing a violent video game have showed a negative affect on the brain. It is not just video games that cause this affect though, the same can be found after watching violent movies. Teens who play violent games for excessive amounts of time are found to be more aggressive. They are prone to getting into conflicts with their teachers and they are also more likely to engage in fights. It has also been found that violent video games can cause a decline in academic achievements (Gentile et al, 2004).

The constant repetition of the violent acts in video games could possibly be the reason why they can cause aggression in teenagers (Gentile & Anderson, 2003). Repetition is used as an effective learning method, so are these games in fact teaching children to be violent? The fact that many parents do not limit the time their children spend playing video games also contributes to this learning of violence (Walsh, 2000).

The above graph shows that exposure to violent video games decreases positive prosocial actions. These are actions that help others (Walsh, D; 2000). [Click image to enlarge]

Contrary to what many people may believe, research has found that children learn more from video games, than they do through books. In an experiment carried out by Dr David Lewis, historic information was integrated in a video game, and also presented in written form. Over three quarters of the children studied absorbed the information from the video game, whereas only half did when they read it.

However this research is only relevant to academic games, or games with educational information. It does not mean that they don’t also cause aggression and violence. Therefore it does not mean that all games are ‘good’ for children. This research just highlights the fact that video games can be used to benefit children academically and are not all aggression causing.

Again, this debate could refer back to correlation and causation. Could the correlation between aggression and violent video games just reflect on the type of person who is likely to play video games? The link is definitely there, but does this mean that video games are the cause of the aggression?

Gentile, D. A. & Anderson, C. A. (2003). Violent video games: The newest media violence hazard. In D. A. Gentile (Ed.), Media violence and children. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishing.

Gentile, D. A., Lynch, P., Linder, J. & Walsh, D. (2004). The effects of violent video game habits on adolescent hostility, aggressive behaviors, and school performance. Journal of Adolescence, 27, 5-22.

Walsh, D. (2000). Interactive violence and children: Testimony submitted to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, United States Senate. (March 21, 2000.)