Shifts in color discrimination during early pregnancyEvolutionary Psychology 10(2): 238-252
The present study explores two hypotheses: a) women during early pregnancy should experience increased color discrimination ability, and b) women during early pregnancy should experience shifts in subjective preference away from images of foods that appear either unripe or spoiled. Both of these hypotheses derive from an adaptive view of pregnancy sickness that proposes the function of pregnancy sickness is to decrease the likelihood of ingestion of foods with toxins or teratogens. Changes to color discrimination could be part of a network of perceptual and physiological defenses (e.g., changes to olfaction, nausea, vomiting) that support such a function. Participants included 13 pregnant women and 18 non-pregnant women. Pregnant women scored significantly higher than non-pregnant controls on the Farnsworth-Munsell (FM) 100 Hue Test, an objective test of color discrimination, although no difference was found between groups in preferences for food images at different stages of ripeness or spoilage. These results are the first indication that changes to color discrimination may occur during early pregnancy, and is consistent with the view that pregnancy sickness may function as an adaptive defense mechanism.
visual perception, color discrimination, pregnancy sickness, first trimester