Are Men in Red More Desirable to Women?

When Chris De Burgh sang ai???Lady in redai???; he forgot to mention the effect of the color red on women. According to the latest research (2nd August ’10), red has an arousing effect on women. They find ai???gentlemen in redai??? sexually desirable and more attractive. Studies were conducted by the researchers from the University of Rochester and various other universities to prove that red is, indeed, the color of passion for women. Andrew Elliot, Professor for Psychology at the University of Rochester and the lead author of the paper, feels that women find men in red ai???as higher in status, more likely to make money and more likely to climb the social ladder. And it’s this high-status judgment that leads to the attraction,”

The Experiments

The experiments were carried out on 288 female undergraduates and 25 male undergraduates from the United States, England, China and Germany. All the participants were self-identified heterosexuals or bisexuals. Their responses to the photographs of men were analyzed in seven different experiments.

  • In one of the experiments, the participants were asked to look at the photograph of a man. The frame was bordered in red or white. They had to answer a series of questions like ai???How attractive do you find the person?ai???
  • In another experiment, the red was contrasted with green, blue or gray. The intensity and lightness of the colors were equal.
  • In various other experiments, the color of the man’s shirt was digitally altered to red or a different color. The specimen were asked to rate the status and attractiveness of the man. They were also asked to report whether they were willing to kiss, date or have sexual activity with the man. They also rated the kindness and likability of the person.


The Observations
The following facts were observed in the experiment:

  • The effect of the red color was limited to the status and romance.
  • Red makes the man seem more attractive, sexually desirable and powerful.
  • Unfortunately, the hue doesn’t make the man look more kind or sociable.
  • The red effect was consistent among the participants from different cultures.
  • This desirable effect of the color red was only limited to the female undergraduates.
  • Color made no difference to the male undergraduates while rating the attractiveness of the man in the picture.

The Explanation
Elliot provides an explanation to this red preference among women. According to him,

  • Red is often associated with the royalty in many societies like China, Japan, Africa, Ancient Rome etc. So, it carries power and higher social status
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  • Red indicates confidence. Did you notice President Barack Obama wore a red tie during his acceptance speech and while taking the oath of office?
  • Not only in the human species but also in the animal kingdom, red plays a major role. Among gelada baboons and mandrills, red indicates male dominance and a characteristic of alpha males. Therefore, females often mate with the alpha males.
  • Women also, like animals, feel that men in red are resourceful, successful and powerful.

So, now you know if you want to make an impression at work or in your personal life, which color you should opt for?

The paper was coauthored by:
Daniela Niesta Kayer from the University of Rochester
Richard H. Gramzow from the University of Southampton
Tobias Greitemeyer from the University of Innsbruck
Stephanie Lichtenfeld from the University of Munich
Markus A. Maier from the University of Munich
Huijun L from Tainjin Medical University

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