What is it about the color red that's so sexy? Researchers have compiled a collection of studies from over the years that helps suggest that women use the color to attract potential mates during ovulation, going on the theory that the male brain is especially stimulated by the vibrant color, according to Medical Daily.
While the color red has long been associated with sexuality in human society, it is only recently that the scientific community has begun to dissect why this may be, and what effect the color has on the human brain.
"It's only recently that psychologists and researchers in other disciplines have been looking closely and systematically at the relationship between color and behavior," Andrew Elliot, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, told Medical Daily. "Much is known about color physics and color physiology, but very little about color psychology. It's fascinating to find that something as ubiquitous as color can be having an effect on our behavior without our awareness."
In three separate experiments, Elliot and her co-worker, co-researcher Daniela Niesta, showed photographs of women to men and asked them to rate the women's attractiveness. In the first experiment, men were shown identical pictures of women with either a red or white border, while other experiments used gray, green and blue borders.
In the final version, male participants saw identical women wearing different colored shirts. In each version of the experiment, the men were asked to imagine how much money they would spend on their potential date if they were given $100.
The men were far more likely and willing to spend more on the women in red. How can this be?
"Our research demonstrates a parallel in the way that human and nonhuman male primates respond to red," the authors wrote. "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."
To test the idea of women naturally opting for red when desiring a mate, researchers Alec Beall and Jessica Tracy from the University of British Columbia enlisted 100 American and 24 Canadian women to participate in a study in relation to women's ovulation and the color. The female participants were told to report the number of days since their last period and the color of the shirt they wore on each day.
A far greater percentage of women wearing pink and red were in the group of women who were ovulating at the time.
"Women at high-conception risk were substantially more likely to be wearing a red/pink-colored shirt compared to women at low-conception risk; 40 percent vs. 7 percent," the researchers wrote. "We found that 76 percent of women in Sample A and 80 percent of women in Sample B who were wearing red/pink were at peak fertility, suggesting that red/pink-colored clothing is a strong indicator of ovulation."
However, variables in both studies to consider include the fashion tastes of the women and the likelihood that men may equate red with beauty as they see many attractive celebrities donning the color in Hollywood. Nonetheless, the results are revealing, the "first to indicate that female ovulation, long assumed to be hidden, is in fact associated with a distinct, objectively observable behavioral display," the researchers wrote.
And the color red does more than arouse possible mates. According to Daily Infographic, the color red encourages appetite (one reason it's often associated with restaurants such as McDonald's), evokes strong emotions and can even make you do poorly on an exam, as it is associated with the danger of failure, which is one reason that many teachers have stopped using red pens to correct their student's work.