"We found that women view men in red as higher in status, more likely to make money and more likely to climb the social ladder," lead researcher Andrew Elliot, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, says in a university news release. "It's this high-status judgment that leads to the attraction."
If you thought it was because red makes men appear passionate or sensitive, attributes traditionally associated with the garish hue, the study shows just the opposite. Red made men appear powerful and attractive, but had no affect on a man's likability, kindness or apparent extroversion.
Conducted on undergraduate males and females in the United States, England, Germany and China, the study found that the red effect is consistent across cultures. That leads Elliot to believe it is biological in nature, and not culturally ingrained.
In the study, subjects were shown a series of photos portraying men in various colored tees and surveyed about their interest in dating, kissing, and taking it past first base with the men in the monitor. No apparent trend was found in association with any other color.
Perhaps most interestingly, the red effect only took place in the 288 women involved in the study. None of the 25 undergraduate males, all identified as either heterosexual or bisexual, experienced increased sexual attraction to men in red. The skewed sample could very well be the culprit.
Elliot is no stranger to the psychology of the color red. In a 2008 study, he found that a woman in red was more likely to be "asked to the prom" than a woman in another color. In 2007, he found the color red could impair a person's performance during a big test or big game.
This good professor, if no one else, certainly seems to be a fan of the color.
image via medguru
Story by Sam Brand. Originally published at Tonic.