Red Increases Male’s Attraction to Female


The article, Romantic Red: Red Enhances Men’s Attraction to Women by Elliot and Niesta, was on the effect the color red has on attitude of males toward females. The authors’ main point were that the color red influences male attractiveness towards females. The article explained in detail 5 experiments that were conducted by the authors to prove their hypothesis that red leads men to view women as more attractive and more sexually desirable (Elliot & Niesta, 2008).

The article started out by pointing out prior studies that have already been done on the physical aspects on why men are attracted to women. It might be the shape of a female’s body or facial features. But in this research, they are going to focus on the color red.

The focus in the study was to show that color has functional value. And also the value of a color can change in different circumstances. For example, the article cited Elliot et al. (2007) focused on the influence of the color red on performance in achievement situations. As stated in (Elliot & Niesta, 2008), Elliot et al. (2007) showed that red can have negative, aversive implications in an achievement context; in the present work, we sought to show that red can have positive, appetitive implications in a relational context. Although red can have inimical implications for psychological functioning, we do not think that this is always the case (Elliot & Niesta, 2008).

The color red has been shown in numerous studies to be associated with love, passion and lust. The article explained the societal emphasis that is put on the color red. Red is paired with hearts on Valentine’s Day to symbolize romantic affection and is a highly popular color for women’s lingerie (Elliot & Niesta, 2008). Although, we can easily assume that red was just conditioned by society to give us this feeling, the author believed that there are biological implications also involved. Studies on different species showed that red have an effect on the sexual behavior of the male towards the female. The red can be a physical part of the female body or redness caused by the natural cycles in a female body.

The author distinguished two factors they were looking for in the five experiments. Perceived physical attractiveness refers to a positive judgment regarding the target’s physical appearance, whereas sexual attraction refers to a felt desire to become romantically involved with the target (Elliot & Niesta, 2008).

The researchers did point out that in general people are not aware of the different stimuli that affect their behaviors. And if their assumptions were right, it would have great implications for fashion designers, advertising and humans in general.

The authors conducted 5 experiments. All participants were college students in the United States. They participated for extra credits on college courses. They did not have any knowledge on what the experiment was on. All 5 experiments had a mixture of volunteer from different ethnic background but the majority was Caucasian. 

In the first experiment, there were 27 participants. They were divided into two groups and showed a picture of a female. The picture was centered on a bigger page. The photo in one group had a red surrounding and the other group had a white surrounding. The participants had 5 seconds to look at the picture and then answer a questionnaire. Participants in the red group rated the target woman as more attractive than did those in the white group (Elliot & Niesta, 2008).

In the second experiment there were 31 male and 32 females. The researchers wanted to see if the color had the same effect on both sexes. The participants were divided into 2 groups and given the same experiment as experiment one, except it was a picture of a different female. In this experiment and the rest of the experiment there was no time limit for looking at the picture. The experiment found that men found the picture with the red background more attractive but this effect was not present for women.

Experiment three was conducted with all male participants. In this experiment, instead of using a white and red background, they used a gray and red background. This experiment focused on the attractiveness and likeability of the female in the picture. Men who viewed women on a red, relative to a gray, background perceived them to be more attractive and were more sexually attracted to them (Elliot & Niesta, 2008). But Color did not affect overall likeability, and the focal results were shown to be independent of overall likeability (Elliot & Niesta, 2008).

Experiment four had 34 participants, all male. In this experiment, red and green was tested. These two colors were used because they tend to be the opposite. In this experiment, they also try to see if red extended to kindness and likeability. Men who viewed a woman on a red, relative to a green, background perceived her to be more attractive and were more sexually attracted to her. Color did not affect kindness or intelligence judgments, and the focal results were shown to be independent of perceived kindness and intelligence (Elliot & Niesta, 2008).

The last experiment had 23 participants. In this experiment, red and blue was tested. In this experiment, participants were question on the likelihood of asking the female out on a date and how much money they would spend on the person during a date. Men who viewed a woman in a red relative to a blue shirt perceived her to be more attractive, were more sexually attracted to her, and indicated a greater likelihood of asking her on a date and spending money on a date with her (Elliot & Niesta, 2008). There were two participants, one in experiment two and one in experiment three, that guessed that the experiment was on color and attractiveness. No other participant was aware that the experiments were on color and attractiveness.

Altogether, the five experiments of the present research provide strong support for the hypothesized red effect (Elliot & Niesta, 2008). But we also have to consider that the experiments were conducted in a controlled environment and not in real world situation. 

Although, the research did give a lot of compelling data, the researchers did mention that this is just their way of opening up the subject for more research, and it is not the final word on color’s ability to change male attractiveness towards female.


Elliot, J. A., Niesta, D. (2008). Romantic red: Red enhances men’s attraction to women.

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 5, 1150-1164.




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