Science of Love, Sex, and Babies

Like moths to a flame

Posted in news by jenapincott on November 3, 2008

The hottest new study on attraction shows that men are more attracted to women who wear red. Researchers at the University of Rochester, Andrew Elliot and Daniela Niesta, asked men to rate the attractiveness of women in various experiments: 1.) in a photo bordered by either red or white; 2.) in a photo that contrasted red with a background of gray, green, or blue; and 3.) with a shirt that was digitally altered to be either red or blue.

In all three experiments, the women shown wearing or framed by the color red were considered more sexually desirable by the men (but not more likable, intelligent, or kind). Moreover, when men were asked how much money they’d spend on a date with women in the photos, the guys were more likely to say they’d spend more on the women in red.

The researchers also say that they have preliminary evidence that women are also more attracted to “gentlemen in red” and that “neither sex takes the evolutionary high road.”

Adding a bit of fun is a previous study by the same researchers that found that the color red has a negative effect on IQ test performance.

What about red turns people on (and decreases intelligence)? It could be cultural conditioning; after all, red is the color of love and Valentine hearts. The researchers also suggest that the attraction is an unconscious biological bias for the color signal of sexual excitement: blood-engorged sex organs. Reading the two studies, one wonders if blood drains from the brain to the genitals.

In the study on men’s attraction to red is a line that sounds like a page out of my playbook:

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.

Perhaps there’s another explanation for the red bias. Could it be that the judges are voting Republican?


One Response

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  1. dazey2 said, on January 8, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    what a cool study! This makes me think of Valentine’s Day too.

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