What are interesting facts about red color

Psychological Institute - Developmental Psychology: Adulthood

Colors have a major influence on how we perceive the attractiveness of others. In previous psychological research, the color red turned out to be particularly important. Men, for example, rate a woman as more attractive when she wears a red T-shirt and are willing to spend more money on a date with a woman dressed in red. How can this strong effect of the color red be explained?

Red does not seem to have a direct effect on perceived attractiveness, but rather indirectly through a higher assessment of sexual readiness or receptivity. There are numerous social as well as physiological or biological reasons for this. In society, for example, the color red is often associated with female sexuality (e.g. red light district, lingerie, cosmetics). Physiologically, women who are sexually aroused develop redness in the upper chest, neck and face. In addition, during the period of highest fertility in the cycle, women's skin becomes a little lighter, which makes blushing more visible. Women also “signal” their fertility directly by changing their behavior, especially since they tend to wear red clothes during these days.

Interestingly, however, a study published a few years ago showed that black clothing also promotes perceived attractiveness. More precisely, men rated the same women in black T-shirts as more attractive than in green, yellow or white T-shirts, but as being just as attractive as women in red T-shirts.

Of course, this finding cannot be explained with the same explanation as for the color red, because physiologically or biologically there does not seem to be any connection between black coloring and sexual readiness: women do not “blacken” when they are aroused, but they blush. Consequently, the color black should have a positive influence on men's attractiveness in a different way than by signaling sexual readiness. The study by Adam D. Pazda (University of Rochester) and his colleagues was about this other path. The researchers argued as follows:

On the one hand, black is considered a very elegant color. It is the prototypical color for evening wear (e.g. "the little black dress") and is worn on red carpet occasions. On dating sites it is the color most often worn by women and no matter how new color trends are, the color black has so far not harmed it - black is always fashionable! On the other hand, it is known from research that wearing trendy, fashionable clothing is associated with attractiveness.

The researchers assume that the colors red and black should have an equal impact on perceived attractiveness, but in different ways: women dressed in black should be perceived as more fashionable in a first step and therefore more attractive in a second step . Women dressed in red, on the other hand, should be perceived as more receptive to sex in a first step and therefore more attractive in a second step. In order to have a neutral comparison condition, the researchers also examined the effect of the color white.

To test their assumptions, the researchers divided a total of 361 heterosexual and bisexual unmarried men between the ages of 18 and 35 into three conditions. All three groups were shown exactly the same young woman in a photo. In the first condition, however, she wore a red, in the second a black and in the third a white knee-length dress. Then the test subjects rated how receptive they think the woman is to sex (e.g. "She is interested in sex"). In addition, the researchers asked in various ways how fashionable and attractive they find women.

In fact, in a first step, the authors' assumption was confirmed that men perceived women in red dresses as more receptive to sex than women in black and white dresses. In a second step, it was confirmed that the more receptive she was to sex according to the participants' judgments, the more attractive the woman was rated.

It was also shown that men initially perceived women in black dresses as more fashionable than women in white dresses. Contrary to the authors' assumption, it was also shown that they perceived the woman in red as more fashionable than when she wore white. In a second step it was confirmed that women were rated as more attractive if they found men more fashionable.

The suspected indirect connections were finally confirmed, especially for the color black: black only increased the perceived attractiveness of women when men rated them as more fashionable. If it was not rated as more fashionable, it was just as attractive in black as it was in white. On the other hand, when she wore the red dress, the participants thought she was more receptive to sex and therefore more attractive. In addition, the men rated the woman in red as more attractive than in white, even if they did not rate her in red as more receptive to sex, which speaks for an additional direct effect of the color red.

Even if a red and black dress can ultimately have the same effect on men's attractiveness judgments, they develop this effect in different ways.

The fact that women are not seen as more attractive in black than in white could be explained by the fact that although they appear more fashionable and therefore more attractive, black has a negative impact on perceived attractiveness at the same time. Possible reasons for this are that lightness is generally rated positively, while darkness, on the other hand, has negative connotations. Studies also show that people associate black with aggressiveness - a trait that is detrimental to attractiveness.

Pazda, A. D., Elliot, A. J., & Greitemeyer, T. (2014). Perceived sexual receptivity and fashionableness: Separate paths linking red and black to perceived attractiveness. Color Research & Application, 39, 208–212.

Please note that this study was not carried out in our laboratory. If you would like to take part in a study in our laboratory, you can find out more here additional Information.
Use and reproduction in any form, including extracts, only with the prior written consent of the author.