This experiment’s aim was to see whether females had larger colour vocabularies than males. Previous studies such as that by Thomas, Curtis and Bolton (1978) show that women have an extensive colour vocabulary when compared to men. Robin Lacoff suggests that women take part in more colour-based activities, for example, clothes shopping, where one would mix and match colours to create a scheme. Women therefore should have a larger database of colour related words than men. Following the results from these previous studies, it was expected that females would generate more colour words than males.
The sample consisted of 16 participants aged 16-19 from a sixth form college in the south of England, participants were selected by opportunity sampling. There were 8 male and 8 female participants. Using an independent measures design, the participants were asked to write down as many colour words as they could within two minutes, the number of words written at the end of the two minutes was the dependant variable. The Mann-Whitney U-test was then used and this showed that the results were significantly different between conditions at p;0.025 and the experimental hypothesis was accepted.
It was therefore concluded that females have larger colour vocabularies than males. Introduction It is a widely believed view that women have larger colour vocabularies than men. Linguist Robin Lacoff claims that females have larger colour vocabularies as they spend more time on colour-oriented tasks such as shopping. This is, however, intuitive and not based on any actual evidence. Rich (1977) conducted a study to investigate whether gender affects the size of a person’s colour vocabulary using coloured cards. Participants were shown cards and asked to describe their colour. Answers were scored using a system to measure the individual’s vocabulary:
1. Basic e.g. Red, yellow 2. Qualified e.g. a basic word qualified by adjectives e.g. light/dark 3. Fancy colour words e.g. lavender ,A Mann Whitney U test concluded that women have more extensive and elaborate colour vocabularies than men. Another study by Thomas, Curtis and Bolton (1978) investigated the same hypothesis. They interviewed 72 Nepalese women and asked them to list all the colours they could think of. They found that woman’s colour vocabularies were signicantly larger and suggested that, as traditionally, Nepalese women wear more colourful clothing, it could have been a contributory factor.
The following study was a replication of this study however used British participants to see if the same results were gained. Hypothesis Experimental hypothesis: Females will be able to list significantly more colour words in a 2-minute time period than males will Null hypothesis: Females will not be able to list significantly more colour words in a 2-minute time period than males will Method Design The experiment used an independent groups design as the conditions were male and female and so it was impossible to use a repeated measures design.
Participants The experiment comprised 16 participants aged 16-19 from a sixth form college in Southern England. Within the sample were 8 males and 8 females. The sampling method used was opportunity as it’s quick and easy and therefore ideal for this experiment.
Procedure The experiment was carried out in the quad of the college. The participants were handed an instruction slip explaining the experiment and covering all the ethical guidelines such as asking for consent and offering withdrawal. The instruction slip was then given in and blank sheets of paper were handed out. Participants were then timed for 2 minutes. In this time they were instructed to write down as many colour words as they knew. After this time was up, the lists were handed back in and participants were debriefed and asked whether they had any questions.
Controls The experiment was carried out in the same location with the two conditions at the same time to control for environmental factors, which may have affected the validity of the results. The procedure was standardised as all participants were given the same instruction slip, the same time limit, and had the same experimenter present throughout. Art students were controlled for, by using the same number in each condition (3), as it could be predicted that these participants may have larger colour vocabularies. Colour blindness was eliminated from the experiment to prevent its effects on the results.