Men are more attracted to women who wear the color red compared to other colors because men believe that they are less likely to be rejected, according psychologists of a new study.
Investigators said that the color red conveys a subtle but startlingly powerful alteration of perceived sexual receptiveness.
Psychologists at the University of Rochester in New York and at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, revealed that male participants who were shown photographs of women wearing a red shirt found them to be more attractive than the same women wearing green or white shirts.
Researchers tested 96 men from the United States and Austria, and found that they men felt that the women wearing red shirts were not only significantly more sexually attractive, but the men predicted them to be significantly more likely to respond positively to sexual advances.
Researchers also asked male participants to imagine that they were going on a date with the women in the pictures and had a $100, and then to indicate how much money they would be willing to spend on their date. Women in red also scored significantly higher in the amount of money men would spend on them, compared to women wearing a different color.
This effect most likely stems from biology, according to study author Adam Pazda, a psychologist at the University of Rochester.
He explained that when many non-human primate species, like chimpanzees and baboons, ovulate, their estrogen levels peak, which in turn opens up their blood vessels resulting in their faces to turn bright red. This rosy complexion appears seems to be sexual signals that are intended to attract males.
The researchers were fascinated “that merely changing the color of a woman’s shirt can have such a strong influence on how she is perceived by men” regardless of the cut.
"It doesn't have to be a red dress or a sexy outfit," he told Science Now. "It can be a red T-shirt."
Pazda noted that the effect may confounded, and that women may actually be more inclined to wear red clothing when they are interested in sexual encounters, and that he and his team are currently researching this possibility.
"From a pragmatic standpoint, our results suggest that women may need to be judicious in their use of red clothing,” Pazda said, and that wearing red could be a double-edged sword, leading to women getting sexual attention that they do not want.
“Our finding that female red carries sexual meaning will likely be of considerable interest to fashion designers, marketers, and advertisers,” Pazda added.
"I think [the study] is quite good," Paul Eastwick, a social psychologist at Texas A&M University in College Station told Science Now. "It suggests to me that humans as they exist today exhibit these somewhat odd evolutionary artifacts that haven't been applicable for some time."
The findings are published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.