Color Red Affects Married Women’s Evaluations of Male Attractiveness: Study
Sun, April 18, 2021

Color Red Affects Married Women’s Evaluations of Male Attractiveness: Study

New research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests that color red affects married women’s evaluations of male attractiveness / Photo by: Viorel Sima via Shutterstock

 

New research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests that color red affects married women’s evaluations of male attractiveness.

Color and Perception

Study co-author Nicolas Pontes, who is also a lecturer at the University of Queensland, said via psychology news platform PsyPost that he is generally interested in how individuals are forming their first impressions on other people. Color is one cue that is usually present in forming such as impression. In their study, they determined married women’s ratings of male attractiveness not only for romantic relationships but for interpersonal encounters, such as in the workplace and advertising and hospitality industries.

For instance, studies show that people who are perceived as more attractive have high employment advantages and are perceived to be better communicators and more likable. Thus, they are promoted or hired more often than the less attractive ones.

In their research, Pontes and co-author JoAndrea Hoegg from Sauder School of Business explained that married women were more likely to recall the words related to relationship commitment than single ladies after exposure to an attractive male presented on a red background. They also experimented with showing the attractive male against a white background to confirm their findings. A total of 412 married women were involved in the study while the rest of the participants were single.

When Color Red Becomes a Threat Cue

On the other hand, the authors said that although wearing red may increase one’s attractiveness, the effect can also backfire. This is because married women may consider it a threat to cue and trigger avoidance behaviors to maintain their relationship with their husbands. The researchers also found that when women are tired or depleted, the red-derogation effect is reduced and they don’t have enough self-control to respond.

Purpose of the Study

Pontes and Hoegg believe that their findings can be used as a reference to various industries, such as hospitality. For example, allowing male waiters to wear red may be detrimental in receiving tips as they are perceived as a potential threat to the relationship. The duo also emphasized how the color red can potentially activate a person’s “defensive strategy.”

In 2016, Basel University’s psychologist Robert Burriss Ph.D. also shared that color red does not just affect women’s perception of attractiveness but also of men. He shared that the color red is strongly linked to attraction and desire. Burriss cited the experiment at the University of Potsdam in Germany, wherein researchers invited women to visit the laboratory to take part in a psychology experiment. These women received email directions to the lab with a full-body photograph of a male undergraduate researcher who would be running the test. The photo was either that of a more handsome man or a less attractive student. The women were simply told that the photo of the male undergraduate was attached so that they would recognize him when they arrived.

The result shows that women (57%) were more likely to show up to the lab wearing red if they expected to meet the handsome man but only 16% of the respondents wore red when they expected to meet the less attractive man.

Red Dress Effect and Color Psychology

There is also a phenomenon of the red dress effect, wherein people wearing a red dress are perceived as more sexually appealing than wearing other colors. So enduring and potent is the color that behavioral psychologists have long studied its effect. 

Online analytics platform KissMetrics said that colors affect people’s purchases, too. Consumers place color and visual appearance above other factors when they are shopping. For instance, 93% of consumers are influenced by product appearance, 6% only by texture, and 1% by sound or smell. Color likewise increases brand recognition by up to 80% and brands should take note of this as brand recognition is linked directly to consumer confidence.

For North American online consumers, color represents an optimistic and youthful look. It is often used to grab the attention of window shoppers. Red, on the other hand, increases the heart rate of consumers and creates urgency to buy. This is why it is often seen in clearance sales. Being a powerful color, red also tends to attract and stimulate attention.

Blue creates the sensation of security and trust that is usually seen in businesses and banks. Orange is an aggressive color and creates a call to action, such as sell, buy, or subscribe. Pink is feminine and romantic, which is why it is often used to market products that are targeted to young girls and women.

Green is a color linked to wealth and is commonly used in stores for relaxation purposes. Purple is used to calm and soothe consumers, which is why it is seen usually in anti-aging and beauty products. Black is a sleek and powerful color that is often seen in luxury products.

There is also a phenomenon of the red dress effect, wherein people wearing a red dress are perceived as more sexually appealing than wearing other colors / Photo by: AS Inc via Shutterstock