Ladies–here’s a question for you: When you’re getting dressed for a night out, should you wear a slinky, black dress or the short, red number? Is one color more effective at signaling desire than the other? A color psychology study conducted at the University of Rochester show that red is the color of passion and even related to the evolution of desire. Find out what to wear (or not to) in this installment of Jon Barron’s health podcast.
Why are food courts painted bright colors? Why is a doctor’s coat white? Why are there love songs about ladies in red? Examples of color psychology are everywhere; our moods, emotions, and behaviors are subtly affected by colors, as the recent study linking the color red to sexual attraction show.
Conducted at the University of Rochester, 25 male volunteers were asked to view photos of a woman. The photos were altered so that the only difference between them is her T-shirt color–red or white. The participants were then asked to rate the woman’s level of interest in sex and romance on a scale of one to nine. According to the difference in their answers, it seems that the color red was indeed a red flag to them of her openness to a sexual encounter. The men rated the woman between one and one-and-a-half points higher when she was dressed in red.
Previous research has found that men consider a woman to be more sexually alluring if they deem her to be receptive to a possible advance on their part. Tied together with the latest findings, this may explain why some men go crazy for a lady in red.
Another study (also at the University of Rochester) showed that women felt the same way. In this study, 32 women were shown black-and-white images of a man framed by either a white or red background. Participants ranked the attractiveness of the man on a scale of one to nine, and men on red backgrounds were rated more than one point higher on the attractiveness scale by women over men on a white background. Follow-up experiments pitting red against other colors such as green produced the same results.
But as Jon Barron talks about in this health podcast, the meaning of colors (and how they’re used) touches on more than just the evolution of desire.