The Color Red & the Rules of Attraction

Studies show that wearing red makes you more attractive.

By Leah Zerbe


Did somebody forget to send this guy the memo on shirt color? International researchers have finally scientifically proven why some middle-aged men trade in minivans and dull sedans for cherry-red rides—it makes them more attractive. For those who can't afford a new red convertible, the good news is scientists are finding it's simply wearing or being surrounded by the color red that tends to make men appear more attractive to women, according to a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. So wearing a red polo shirt could be just as effective as driving around in a red convertible—though definitely not as exciting!

THE DETAILS: Researchers conducted seven experiments in the U.S., England, Germany, and China that included 288 women and 25 male undergraduate students. In six of the seven experiments, women looked at photos of men and evaluated their status, attractiveness, and sexual desirability. The women also rated what they perceived to be a man's likability, kindness, and sociability. The photos were manipulated so the man in the photos wore different color shirts. In other experiments, researchers used black and white photos but used different color photo frames. The effect was consistent across cultures: Women in all four countries found men more attractive when the men were wearing red shirts or they appeared in black-and-white photographs in red frames.

Interestingly, the same didn't hold true for the men in the study. The researchers asked men to look at photos of other men and rank them according to the characteristics listed above, but in their responses, color didn't seem to have an effect. The study authors also found that women were unaware that they were drawn to men associated with the color red. (Sorry, guys, your secret is out of the bag now.)