The Effect of the Color Red on Attractiveness and Hirability
Authors:Holly Bashore, Julia Bussberg, Emily Issler
Mentor:Richard Graf, Professor of Psychology, San Diego State University
This study investigated the effect of the color red on non-physical attractiveness. According to previous literature (Elliot et al., 2010; Elliott & Aarts, 2011), the valence of the effect of the color red is context-dependent. While several studies have yielded findings indicating a negative effect of red stimuli on performance (e.g., Gnambs, Appel, & Batinic, 2010), the effect of red on human affect, behavior, and cognition has also been shown to be positive (e.g., Elliot & Niesta, 2008). The present study attempted to add to the previous literature examining the positive impact of the color red on human affect. We hypothesized that people will rate a target described on red paper as more attractive than a target described on white paper. Data were collected from 106 participants recruited at random from the San Diego State University campus. Participants read a personality description of the target and completed a questionnaire rating the target’s attractiveness and hirability. The hypothesis that people will rate the target as more attractive if their personality description were printed on red paper was supported. In addition, people rated targets whose description was printed on red paper as less hirable. The results suggest that the influence of evolutionary, biological, and socio-cultural factors on human behavior may be somewhat greater that previously stated. A red stimulus may have a positive effect on human affect in situations that include the evaluation of opposite-sex partners by functioning as a sexual symbol, but may have a negative effect on human behavior in performance-based contexts that foster competitiveness. Our findings may be of interest to users of online dating services or other social media, whose goal it is to attract potential partners, as well as to job applicants, whose goal it is to make a good impression during their interview.