As a consequence, color-attraction effects are not likely a product of implicit response biases resulting from concurrent target presentation and rating temporarily lowering the criterion of attractiveness. Rather, color may create a within-target attractiveness benchmark. When female targets previously paired with red are later rated without the red border, they are rated as less attractive. In a real world context, this suggests that wearing red to increase attractiveness may be a one-shot strategy for females, constrained to the point in time when red is worn.
When the red hue is removed, attractiveness is reduced in a way that does not occur for male targets. Once again, we wish to acknowledge that this benchmark possibility is speculative, and one that remains to be tested explicitly using experimental paradigms. Third, awareness of faces during color pairing played an important role in the effects of color on attractiveness ratings.
At low levels of awareness, the red-attraction effect for male targets and red-unattraction effect for female targets were present. However, as objective awareness increased, these patterns were reversed. This would seem to indicate that the observed results are largely contingent on participants lacking access to simultaneous explicit information about the pairing of color and target.
Our findings suggest that the strong version of the implicit cue notion articulated in the introduction does not hold. Rather, red cues require some degree of explicit processing to produce the red-attraction effect. Importantly, conditions of high awareness under which we observed the red-attraction effect for female targets are consistent with the conditions under which the red-attraction effect has been observed i. Even the shortest presentation times used in prior research i. This experiment possesses a number of strengths, including a large sample that enabled detection of effects smaller than typically reported in this literature, answering a recent call for large-sample studies on color effects Elliot, Moreover, because we deployed a design that included cross-sex and same-sex ratings see also Lynn et al.
While the source of these varying sex effects is as yet unknown, the deployed paradigm will be useful in exploring the underlying moderators and mechanisms of color-attraction effects, including sex. The effort to obtain a large sample required a sacrifice with regard to tight control of color properties e. While control of such properties is ideal from an experimental control perspective, we would argue that there is benefit in establishing the nature of color-attraction effects in the face of slight contextual variability, in that it increases ecological validity.
As such, the effect is unlikely to be constrained to strict chromatic parameters, but rather the subjective experience of chromatic cues as red. However, if color cues were manipulated in a more controlled environment such that only the hue parameter changed, we expect that larger effects would likely be observed if the effect is attributable to redness. Uncovering what appear to be contrast effects also highlights the need to more formally test the underlying mechanisms of red-attraction effects when they arise. We speculate that the red-unattraction effects observed here are indicative of contrast, but convincing demonstration of this would necessitate showing the red-attraction effects and contrast effects in the same experiment and on the same stimuli.
This could be achieved through the use of two rating phases: one in which ratings are made at delay, as in the present study, and one in which ratings are made at the time of color-target pairing, as has typically been deployed in past research. Such a design, however, would need to rule out the possibility that making one explicit rating might impact the second. Two other limitations should be noted.
We did not assess colorblindness, though the likely result of the inclusion of any colorblind participants is increased error variance. Further, the findings reported here are relative effects of red compared to blue. Admittedly, the use multiple colors would enable more robust conclusions. However, it should be emphasized that the major differentiator of the two colors used was their hue, not their saturation or luminance. Further, as articulated by Buechner and colleagues , blue is a fitting comparison color for red due to both being popular colors for which individuals have positive associations.
While our study is consistent with the common use of a single color against which red is compared within a particular study examining red-attraction effects Buechner et al. This experiment represents the first attempt to answer heretofore unexplored questions regarding the nature of red-attraction effects.
We disentangled the effect of prior exposure to color from the effect of pairing a target with a color. We also established that, to the extent that participants were aware of the face paired with color, the observed patterns for female targets converged more strongly with prior work i. The nuanced findings we uncovered highlight the importance of investigating color effects using sophisticated paradigms. While one valid conclusion is that these results challenge the robustness of the red-attraction effect, we offer interpretations that highlight the particularities of underlying mechanisms that may give rise to the effect or indeed disrupt the effect.
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Bargh, J. Handbook of Research Methods in Social Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. Buechner, V. Emotion expression and color: Their joint influence on perceived attractiveness and social position. Cheesman, J. Priming with and without awareness. Elliot, A. Color and psychological functioning: a review of theoretical and empirical work.
Frontiers in Psychology 6: Color-in-context theory. The red-attractiveness effect, applying the Ioannidis and Trikalinos b test, and the broader scientific context: A reply to Francis Color psychology: Effects of perceiving color on psychological functioning in humans. Red, rank, and romance in women viewing men. Francis, G.
Color and women attractiveness: When red clothed women are perceived to have more intense sexual intent. Does red lipstick really attract men? An evaluation in a bar. Clothing color and tipping: Gentlemen patrons give more tips to waitresses with red clothes. Hesslinger, V. Men in red: A reexamination of the red-attractiveness effect.
Inquisit Web Edition 3. Jung, I. Red for Romance, Blue for Memory. Kenrick, D. Contrast effects and judgments of physical attractiveness: When beauty becomes a social problem. Kuhbandner, C. Differential binding of colors to objects in memory: Red and yellow stick better than blue and green. Lin, H. Red-colored products enhance the attractiveness of women. Lombardi, W. Metropolitan Museum of Art Fifth Ave. Penn Station Seventh Ave.
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