Who is Martha and who is Arthur?
So, I finally finished this mini-experiment.
I asked two sets of questions, one to ascertain if the colouring of the face affected the way people perceived their gender, and one to see if naming them by placing the names ‘Arthur and Martha’ above them would have any affect (the colouring based test had no names).
When asked, most people picked Left as the male and Right as the woman, by a 4:1 ratio.
But when primed by the placing of the names, they picked Left as the woman by a 2:1 ratio. There were almost as many don’t knows as picked right as female.
The reason I did this?
I’ve seen some studies that suggest women have naturally lighter skin and hair colour, but slightly darker eyes. The general response, showing a stronger response to colouring than to the not very subtle naming of the faces, suggests people do associate lighter colouring with women. There was a fairly large ‘don’t know’ response when the face were named too, showing some confusion in my guinea pigs.
This observation that women have lighter skin might explain the preference for lighter skinned women in a lot of cultures. It’s not something that’s been introduced by conquering Europeans, it’s just a natural preference for a sexually dimorphic trait.