More attractive in red?

Someone recently told me that they read an article which claimed that men and women find the opposite sex more attractive when they wear the color red. I found this statement to be quite interesting. How can the color you’re wearing make you more or less attractive? It just didn’t seem logical.

Apparently, whoever heard this was onto something. According to these studies done in the United States, China, England, and Germany, there is some truth behind this bold claim. Through a series of seven experiments done in these countries, some information has been gathered that provides support for this argument. Women looked at photos of men to evaluate their status, attractiveness and sexual desirability. The photos they looked at were manipulated so that the same man in all of the photos was wearing different colored shirts. In some of the experiments, the photos were presented in black and white, however the frames of the photos were in color. The results were clear. Women in all four countries found that men were more attractive when they were wearing red shirts, and when they were in the black and white picture with the red frame.

There seems to be some science behind these findings. In our society, we associate red with beauty, status and power. It has also been proven that primate alpha males who display more redness on their bodies typically have more mates than ones who don’t.

A study done by the same group as the previous one has shown that the effect is similar with women. The study found that men also find women who wear red to be more attractive and desirable. In this study, ninety six men from the United States and Austria were shown pictures of women with different colored borders surrounding the pictures. The men were asked how receptive the women in the pictures would be to sexual advances. They were also asked this: “Imagine that you are going on a date with this person and have $100 in your wallet. How much money would you be willing to spend on your date?” The women in red scored highly for both of these questions.

It seems that there is a link between the color red and sexual advances and desire. As humans, we have many similarities to other mammals. As I stated before, female mammals are more inclined to mate with males who display more redness in their bodies. It is not surprising that humans are also more attracted to people associate with the color red.

While there is no direct proof that people are more attracted to people wearing red, as we cannot calculate attractiveness in units, there is strong evidence that the statement is true. We can eliminate reverse causality, because it would not make sense that people wear red because they are more attractive. This leads me to believe that there is value in the experiments that have been done to prove this statement, and that the studies have done well.


4 thoughts on “More attractive in red?

  1. Alyssa Kaplan Post author

    Really interesting perspective, Meghan. While I completely understand what you’re saying about how we programed to associate red with sexual desire due to advertising and Valentines day, I still believe there is a natural tendency to associate red with sex even if we weren’t exposed to that type of marketing. I think this because other mammals associate the redness in their mates bodies with mating, therefore I believe that there is probably some sort of natural association in humans as well.

  2. Meghan Kelly Shiels

    I have to wonder how much of this is involved with marketing as much as natural human desire. If you stop and think about the majority of commercials putting emphasis on sensuality, most play with a red color scheme. Would we find red as attractive if we weren’t programmed from a young age to associate it with sex and desire? Valentine’s day is an extremely good example of this.
    Although this question couldn’t really be answered without a huge, isolationist experiment involving children from birth until adulthood, it is an interesting thought to consider. Do we like red because we are biologically programmed to or because we have been methodically programmed with advertising?

  3. Alyssa Kaplan Post author

    That is a really interesting question. I believe that the reason red flags are still used in bull fighting is because of its historical significance. Red does have the ability to make the skin appear brighter and more alive, so maybe that has something do to with the attraction aspect of it. Then again, colors like blue and grey often look better on people with cooler skin tones than red.

  4. Kassidy Schupp

    This is really interesting! I have heard this before but was never sure if it was true or not. Do you think a reason for this could be that red brings out more features in a persons face or body in contrast to black/white? Related to the color red: People often say that a red flag is used in Bull Charging because the color makes the bull angry. But it isn’t the color that angers the bull, it is actually just the movement of the flag. So why don’t they use other colored flags??

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