Ladies, if you want him to notice you, wear red.
The color red makes men feel more amorous toward women, according to a groundbreaking study by two University of Rochester psychologists, who appear to have answered that most ancient of questions: What attracts men to women?
News-Medical.net reports that men are unaware of the role that color plays in their attraction to a woman. While red has long been associated with love--from red hearts on Valentine's Day to notorious red-light districts, this is the first study to scientifically document the effects of color on behavior in the context of relationships.
"It's only recently that psychologists and researchers in other disciplines have been looking closely and systematically at the relationship between color and behavior. Much is known about color physics and color physiology, but very little about color psychology," lead researcher Andrew Elliot told News-Medical.net. "It's fascinating to find that something as ubiquitous as color can be having an effect on our behavior without our awareness."
Elliot, along with his research partner Daniela Niesta, believe men's response to red likely stems from deep biological roots, rather than societal conditioning alone. After all, nonhuman male primates are also attracted to female baboons and chimpanzees displaying red; these females redden conspicuously when nearing ovulation, sending a clear sexual signal designed to attract males, reports News-Medical.net. "Our research demonstrates a parallel in the way that human and nonhuman male primates respond to red," concluded the authors. "In doing so, our findings confirm what many women have long suspected and claimed--that men act like animals in the sexual realm. As much as men might like to think that they respond to women in a thoughtful, sophisticated manner, it appears that at least to some degree, their preferences and predilections are, in a word, primitive."
The study: More than 100 heterosexual male volunteers who were not colorblind viewed photographs of women in a variety of color presentations. For example, in one experiment the men viewed a woman's photo that was framed by a border of either red or white and then answered a series of questions, such as "How pretty do you think this person is?" Other experiments contrasted photos of women who were wearing red with the same women wearing gray, green or blue. Each color was precisely equated to the others in saturation and brightness levels.
The results: Men found the women who were framed by or wearing red significantly more attractive and sexually desirable than the exact same woman shown with other colors.
The gotcha: Red only has this effect on men. It doesn't do a thing for women.
The study findings were published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
--From the Editors at Netscape