Red – The Colour of Attraction
Jenny Galvao

According to research done by Pavol Prokop of Trnava University and his associate Martin Hromada, the colour red is often purposely utilized by women to attract men and men also find red as appealing.

To explain the findings, researchers use the “sexual signalling hypothesis.”

Essentially, this hypothesis states that the red colouring of genitalia is a sexual ornament for primates, and this extend to humans; red clothing is a parallel of this.

“Women involved in a romantic sexual relationship preferred the color red in would-be situations more than single women. This finding does not contradict the sexual signaling hypothesis because women engaged in a romantic sexual relationship are, in fact, expected to attract (at least) their actual mates,” the researchers explain further.

In this experiment, males and females gave basic demographic information, as well as answered if they were involved in a romantic sexual relationship, their total lifetime number of sexual partners, their own perceived attractiveness of themselves (on a scale of 1-5), their sexual orientation, and in order to exclude certain people, they were asked about blindness or if they were currently pregnant.

The participants then viewed digital figures wearing different colours and were asked to imagine the figures as themselves, and then chose which colour they preferred. After this, they were asked which colour their own clothes were, information about the menstrual cycle for women was obtained, and they did a brief mating scenario task. The mating task gave probabilities of the chance of meeting a mate (high vs. low) and figured out which colour women and men would prefer to wear in these different situations.

The results were very interesting. They showed that the preference for red clothing was actually much higher for women than it was for men!

Not only do women prefer wearing red in situations where they were more likely to meet a potential mate, but they also prefer seeing males wear the colour red as opposed to other colours. Also, women who were currently in a relationship preferred red more than single women did. Additionally, menstrual cycle, self-perceived attractiveness, total number of lifetime sexual partners, did not have an association with the preference for the colour red.

“Interestingly, there were no gender differences in the preference for the other seven color categories which means that the preference for red in women is unique as compared with the preference for any other color,” the researchers point out.

These findings certainly send a message to men, if you’re on the hunt for potential female mates, simply wearing the colour red could make all the difference for you!

Jenny Galvao_smallAbout the Author: Jenny Galvao is an undergraduate student at the University of Guelph studying psychology.





Prokop, P., & Hromada, M. Women use red in order to attract mates. 2013. Ethology, 119(7), 605-613. doi:10.1111/eth.12102