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Women attracted to men in red, research shows
Date:8/2/2010

What could be as alluring as a lady in red? A gentleman in red, finds a multicultural study published Aug. 2 in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Simply wearing the color red or being bordered by the rosy hue makes a man more attractive and sexually desirable to women, according to a series of studies by researchers at the University of Rochester and other institutions. And women are unaware of this arousing effect.

The cherry color's charm ultimately lies in its ability to make men appear more powerful, says lead author Andrew Elliot, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. "We found that women view men in red as higher in status, more likely to make money and more likely to climb the social ladder. And it's this high-status judgment that leads to the attraction," Elliot says.

Why does red signal rank? The authors see both culture and biology at work. In human societies across the globe, red traditionally has been part of the regalia of the rich and powerful. Ancient China, Japan and sub-Saharan Africa all used the vibrant tint to convey prosperity and elevated status, and Ancient Rome's most powerful citizens were literally called "the ones who wear red." Even today, the authors note, businessmen wear a red tie to indicate confidence, and celebrities and dignitaries are feted by "rolling out the red carpet."

Along with this learned association between red and status, the authors point to the biological roots of human behavior. In non-human primates, like mandrills and gelada baboons, red is an indicator of male dominance and is expressed most intensely in alpha males. Females of these species mate more often with alpha males, who in turn provide protection and resources.

"When women see red it triggers something deep and probably biologically engrained," explains Elliot. "We say in our culture that men act like animals in the sexual realm. It looks like women may be acting lik
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Contact: Susan Hagen
susan.hagen@rochester.edu
585-576-5945
University of Rochester
Source:Eurekalert  

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