Meloria • Ever Better
Search Tools Main Menu

Currents

No issue assigned

Ladies love a man in red

Simply wearing the color red or being bordered by the rosy hue makes a man more attractive and sexually desirable to women, according to a series of studies by researchers at Rochester and other institutions. And women are unaware of the arousing effect.

The cherry color’s charm ultimately lies in its ability to make men appear more powerful, says lead author Andrew Elliot, a professor of psychology at Rochester. “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. And it’s this high-status judgment that leads to the attraction,” Elliot says.
To quantify the red effect, the authors of the paper published last month in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, analyzed responses from 288 female and 25 male undergraduates to photographs of men in seven different experiments. Participants were all self-identified as heterosexual or bisexual. In one color presentation, participants looked at a man’s photo framed by a border of either red or white and answered a series of questions, such as: “How attractive do you think this person is?”

In several experiments, the shirt of the man in the photographs was digitally colored red, gray, green, or blue. Participants rated the pictured man’s status and attractiveness and reported on their willingness to date, kiss, and engage in other sexual activity with the person. They also rated the man’s general likability, kindness, and extroversion.

The researchers found that the red effect was limited to status and romance: red made the man seem more powerful, attractive, and sexually desirable but did not make the man seem more likable, kind, or sociable. The effect was consistent across cultures: undergraduates in the United States, England, Germany, and China all found men more attractive when wearing or bordered by red.

The paper was coauthored by Daniela Niesta Kayer, Rochester; Tobias Greitemeyer, University of Innsbruck; Stephanie Lichtenfeld, University of Munich; Richard H. Gramzow, University of Southampton; Markus A. Maier, University of Munich; and Huijun Liu, Tainjin Medical University. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and an Excellence Guest Professorship at the University of Munich funded the research.

Previous story    Next story