Things worn in red—lipstick, dress, underwear—are usually seen as provocative and more attractive, although some people might opt for red as nothing but a fashion statement. A latest study, however, interestingly shows that women look at other women in red as sexual threats, the color farther signaling sexual availability to both genders.
The study, titled Women's use of red clothing as a sexual signal in intersexual interaction, was spearheaded by Adam Pazda, psychologist at the University of Rochester, who says that the choice of color can indeed influence the behavior and emotions of people.
The research involved two experiments devised to examine women’s use of red clothing in intersexual interaction.
First experiment was focused on red versus green choice of shirt. Study says green connotes a “go” message in traffic lights as opposed to red, besides generally having positive implications. Results indicate that women were more likely to opt for red than green shirt if they expected to talk with attractive men. Involved in the experiment were 147 undergraduate women in the UK who received five pounds for partaking.
Second experiment shifted its focus from green to blue. Blue, says study, is the most popular of colors to majority of adults as opposed to red. Results show the same: women still opted for red when expecting to talk with attractive men—but not for women seeking conversation with attractive women. Receiving five pounds for the participation in this experiment were 75 undergraduate women in the UK.
“Our results suggest that women perceive and behave toward other women in red as if these other women are actively advertising,” says Pazda.
Their study suggests that red clothes can have aesthetic and functional value. The color red is seen as an ideal medium to signal sexual interest or availability in intersexual interaction, whose use can be “dynamic (easily changed), directed (targeted toward a single individual), and, critically, deniable (thereby evading charges of promiscuity).”
“Our findings contribute to the literature on female sexuality, documenting a creative way that women take the initiative in the courtship process. In addition, our findings contribute to the literature on color and behavior, showing that red plays a subtle, but powerful communicative role in the human mating game,” reads [pdf] the study.
Pazda was however quick to remind that this doesn’t apply to all lady in red.
"The results in our study are just average tendencies. It's certainly not the case that anytime a woman wears red, she is going to be isolated or excluded by other women,” says Pazda.
The study received grant from the German Research Foundation and was published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.