Sex Roles

, Volume 55, Issue 5–6, pp 385–395 | Cite as

Sex-Dimorphic Color Preference in Children with Gender Identity Disorder: A Comparison to Clinical and Community Controls

  • Sandy W. Chiu
  • Shannon Gervan
  • Courtney Fairbrother
  • Laurel L. Johnson
  • Allison F. H. Owen-Anderson
  • Susan J. Bradley
  • Kenneth J. ZuckerEmail author
Original Article


The present study was designed to assess sex-dimorphic color preferences in children with gender identity disorder (47 boys, 18 girls), clinical controls (65 boys, 35 girls), and community controls (65 boys, 35 girls). The mean age of the children was 7.63 years (range = 3–12 years). Children were shown a hexagon-shaped display of 144 colors extracted from PowerPoint™. Each child was asked to choose his or her three favorite colors (Trials 1–3) by pointing to them, naming them, and then to provide a justification for each choice. From the entire array, children labeled a total of 11 different colors: black, blue, brown, gray, green, orange, pink, purple, red, white, and yellow. For three of the colors (blue, pink/purple, and red), there was evidence for normative sex differences in color preference, and, for the colors blue and pink/purple, the gender-referred children showed inverted patterns of color preference. For the color blue, luminance values showed that the gender-referred boys and control girls preferred lighter shades, whereas the gender-referred girls and control boys preferred darker shades. Qualitative analysis indicated that gender-specific justifications were uncommon, even for the sex-dimorphic colors. Gender-referred children showed inverted gender-stereotyped color preferences, which are likely related to their more general pattern of cross-gender identification. Principles of gender-differentiated development derived from gender-schema theory are used to explain the group differences in color preferences.


Color preference Gender identity disorder Gender-schemas Children 



An earlier version of this article was presented at the meeting of the International Academy of Sex Research, Helsinki, Finland, June 2004, and the Second Gender Development Research Conference, San Francisco, California, April 2006.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandy W. Chiu
    • 1
  • Shannon Gervan
    • 1
  • Courtney Fairbrother
    • 1
  • Laurel L. Johnson
    • 1
  • Allison F. H. Owen-Anderson
    • 1
  • Susan J. Bradley
    • 1
  • Kenneth J. Zucker
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Gender Identity Service, Child, Youth, and Family ProgramCentre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada

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