Science

Why does red make us feel more attractive?

From the point of view of popular psychology on colors, red is the most passionate color, which is used as an alarm signal and call for attention immediately. It is also obviously linked to blood, love, intimacy and joy, and on the negative side, to bad grades, economic problems (red numbers), war, violence or the forbidden. Red is very present in traffic signs, traffic lights, sale prices and food (fruit, meat, spices…).

It is the colour of haste and urgency, of the immediate, and also of sexual attraction. That is why red garments, not to mention underwear, have always had a special touch and a seductive intention, because they raise the self-esteem of those who wear them. It has its scientific explanation.

According to a study led by Anne Berthold, a psychologist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, people who dress in red shades see themselves as more beautiful and attractive than those dressed in blue. To carry out the research, published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, the scientists asked a group of volunteers to wear a blue or red T-shirt and enter compartments equipped with mirrors, such as changing rooms in shops. Then they were asked to evaluate their own appeal.

Finally, they were instructed to regrade, but this time after taking a picture of themselves and seeing themselves in it. The result was conclusive: those in red felt sexier. According to the authors of the research, the reason for this effect is that this color attracts more attention and indicates erotic availability. Dressing in red indicates that you are sexually more receptive than wearing blue or other colored clothing. This has a downside: wearing it can be counterproductive for the more timid individuals, who find it uncomfortable to attract the attention of others.

Other studies reveal that the fascination with red has an objective basis based on biology. A 2010 experiment conducted by several universities and published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology indicated that women dressed in this color were more seductive. To measure the influence of red on sexual attraction, a team of psychologists showed a hundred or so photos of women with a similar level of attractiveness, but with either the frame in red or white.

In other photos they played with the contrast of colors between red, gray, green and blue. Finally, they showed images of women whose t-shirts had been coloured red or blue. In all circumstances, women who appeared with the red frame or wearing red garments were considered more attractive and sexually desirable by men than those who were dressed or framed in other shades. The explanation would have its origin in the physiognomy of our primate ancestors.

For example, female baboons and chimpanzees redden as sexual lures when ovulation approaches. In this way they are able to attract males and increase their availability for copulation. Something similar happens to us humans. Sexuality is much more primitive than we usually believe, and red has retained its ability to attract.

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