October 27, 2008
Color Red Makes Men Hot For Women

Hi puppets. How are you all doing today? Geppetto says the color red makes men hot for women. When the men see red they charge for the flag.

A groundbreaking study by two University of Rochester psychologists to be published online Oct. 28 by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology adds color—literally and figuratively—to the age-old question of what attracts men to women.

Through five psychological experiments, Andrew Elliot, professor of psychology, and Daniela Niesta, post-doctoral researcher, demonstrate that the color red makes men feel more amorous toward women. And men are unaware of the role the color plays in their attraction.

The research provides the first empirical support for society's enduring love affair with red. From the red ochre used in ancient rituals to today's red-light districts and red hearts on Valentine's Day, the rosy hue has been tied to carnal passions and romantic love across cultures and millennia. But this study, said Elliot, is the only work to scientifically document the effects of color on behavior in the context of relationships.

Did red hair get selected for because it made women look more hot to men?

Men who think they respond to women in a thoughtful and sophisticated manner are deluding themselves.

Although this aphrodisiacal effect of red may be a product of societal conditioning alone, the authors argue that men's response to red more likely stems from deeper biological roots. Research has shown that nonhuman male primates are particularly attracted to females displaying red. Female baboons and chimpanzees, for example, redden conspicuously when nearing ovulation, sending a clear sexual signal designed to attract males.

"Our research demonstrates a parallel in the way that human and nonhuman male primates respond to red," concluded the authors. "In doing so, our findings confirm what many women have long suspected and claimed – that men act like animals in the sexual realm. As much as men might like to think that they respond to women in a thoughtful, sophisticated manner, it appears that at least to some degree, their preferences and predilections are, in a word, primitive."

We are just smart monkeys.

Women don't get turned on by red in men. Red didn't make women seem any more intelligent or kind.

In the final study, the shirt of the woman in the photograph, instead of the background, was digitally colored red or blue. In this experiment, men were queried not only about their attraction to the woman, but their intentions regarding dating. One question asked: "Imagine that you are going on a date with this person and have $100 in your wallet. How much money would you be willing to spend on your date?"

Under all of the conditions, the women shown framed by or wearing red were rated significantly more attractive and sexually desirable by men than the exact same women shown with other colors. When wearing red, the woman was also more likely to score an invitation to the prom and to be treated to a more expensive outing.

The red effect extends only to males and only to perceptions of attractiveness. Red did not increase attractiveness ratings for females rating other females and red did not change how men rated the women in the photographs in terms of likability, intelligence or kindness.

What color makes men more attractive?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 October 27 11:03 PM  Brain Sexuality

Mthson said at October 27, 2008 11:57 PM:

"What color makes men more attractive?"


Wayne Smallman said at October 28, 2008 3:11 AM:

Personally, I find a woman in a red dress to be a massive turn-off. Even more so red underwear and red nail varnish.

This smart hairless ape's got taste, which this study can't account for...

odographone said at October 28, 2008 4:54 AM:

And so the RNC bought $140,000 worth of red jackets and skirts for Sara Palin? A little sick when you think about it (and I'm sure their media consultants did, and were current on such things).

Lono said at October 28, 2008 9:11 AM:

Oh the Palin thing doesn't bother me - I prefer people to look as good as possible - but you can only do so much to dress up a Pig...

(and yes - her politics are - and have always been - pro pork)

Now, Randall, getting men to be attracted to women is really not the problem...

Please get us the report on potion # 9 already - so we can really up our game!

I personally doubt a color will really affect women since their sexuality is much less visual then men's...

Funny thing about hot red heads (like my wife) - they don't actually look that great in Red - maybe they got more than enough sexuality going for them already...

If you haven't tried one I highly recommend you do!

cmok puk said at October 28, 2008 12:03 PM:

A groundbreaking study?! Get a life and visit some red district..

CHRIS said at October 28, 2008 12:30 PM:

If red made guys sweat, than red heads would be MULTIPLYING, yet there are other studies out that says if you are a red head you'll be a endangered in 50 years cause RED HEADS can't attract anyone

sarah said at October 28, 2008 2:17 PM:

men look attractive in smoking :D or formal shirts...

and in color i like black or green.

Bob Badour said at October 28, 2008 2:43 PM:


Women find red-haired men unappealing, which is what limits the incidence of red hair in the general population. Google "gingerism". Men notice women with blond or red hair, which is why there are any people at all with those hair colors.

Young adults of prime reproductive age have a natural red blush to their cheeks. Men who are sexually attracted to women of prime reproductive age are more likely to pass on their genes. It makes sense we would respond to that sort of signal.

The availability of freshly slaughtered meat might improve the viability of any offspring conceived as well as proving a man's worth as a provider so that association might have something to do with it too.

The hair colors I find most striking are strawberry blond (probably because it is so rare) and dark auburn. Overall, I tend to favor women with fair skin and dark hair.

Faruq said at October 28, 2008 5:11 PM:

oh, women who have red get hit on by men! I thought it was the other way round, hence my post about spray painting my face red. I was going to buy a red jacket and red shirt. Lucky I read the article more carefully.
Does anyone know any pheromones which actually work in attracting women?

Bob Badour said at October 28, 2008 7:24 PM:


On average women like tall lean men with symmetric features and dark hair who appear a little dangerous. (I assume you are mostly interested in getting laid. If all you want is a wife and don't care so much about whose kids you are raising, you can drop the dangerous bit.) A five o'clock shadow or a little facial stubble helps too. On average, women are not attracted to either bearded or clean-shaved faces. They like to see that a man can grow a full beard, but they don't like beards. Perhaps because the beard obstructs the symmetric features?

Specifically regarding height, on average, a woman likes a man who is taller than she is.

( The relatively rare woman who likes the Grizzly Adams look or the baby-face look doesn't really have to object to this comment; although, I expect if any are reading, they will. Neither does the extremely rare Amazon who likes shrimpy men, and the 5' woman who objects that she likes her short 5'2" man hasn't bothered to read what I wrote. )

Randall Parker said at October 28, 2008 7:34 PM:


The DNC bought fake Greek columns for Obama to stand in front of to give a convention speech. Is that any less sick? If so, why?

I think the main difference on this score is that 90% of the press are voting for Obama and so they aren't going to criticize his marketing tactics whereas Palin is fair game.

Full disclosure: I'm too disgusted with both candidates to vote for either of them. Spare me partisan diatribes.

Faruq Arshad,

The red paint is not going to help you with the ladies.


There are lots of women who have troubles getting men attracted to them. Still more women get some male attention but none they find sufficiently rich, masculine, attractive, smart, ungeekish, unbeta, etc. Hence the big makeup industry. Those women are wearing camouflage for sexual warfare.

Mthson said at October 29, 2008 3:01 AM:

Randall, it's of course reasonable to say both our parties have their drawbacks, but I can't avoid the conclusion that what we're seeing in this era is the GOP succumbing to the Creationist wing (e.g. Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh).

(I say this as someone who genetically leans conservative.)

Considering the fertility rate of Creationists compared to say, fiscal conservatives, it was only a matter of time, right?

Faruq said at October 29, 2008 4:57 AM:

Why do women like men with stubble? I mean, beards must have evolved for some reason. And over thousands of years women must have found them appealing.Maybe facial hair is encoded in females genes as a preferential feauture.
I can see your point about clean shaven men, since they resemble infantiles.
Thanks for the manly advice Bob. Unusual to get courting advice on a science site!

Lono said at October 29, 2008 8:39 AM:


This is off topic - but I must parise you for making the wise decision to not vote for one of those who seek to fleece America - there are 16 Candidates running for president on my state's ballot alone!

If we really want to advance science we need to stop voting for these anti-intellectual twits, and blowhard orators, who have long ago sold their allegience to the highest bidder.

Good for you - I know how much that hurts for most Americans.

But as long as we treat the Presidencey as a horse race, or a popularity contest, then we will get the same results every time - which is teh definition of insanity!

Well done - you lead by example here!

Scott said at October 29, 2008 2:14 PM:

I knew it!!! Chris De Burg was right!

Bob Badour said at October 29, 2008 2:18 PM:


"Why do women like men with stubble?"

That's like asking why do men like women with boobs or with full lips set low on their face or with wide hips. We can come up with a just so story to explain it, but when it comes right down to it: It's a secondary sexual characteristic that shows the man is pumping out the right hormones for successful reproduction so women who mate with such men successfully reproduce more often.

Faruq said at October 29, 2008 3:47 PM:

I had some good stubble going on,but had to shave it due to an appointment tomorrow.
Anyone have any more scientific tips on getting females? I would prefer classy females, but to be honest I can't be fussy,since I have the handicap of depression.
Has anyone tried the pheromones,do they work? Which brand is the best?

alon said at October 29, 2008 3:56 PM:

Red is indeed a dominant in Valentine's Day gifts, see color scale in http://tinyurl.com/6nmfxr

Bob Badour said at October 29, 2008 4:49 PM:
Anyone have any more scientific tips on getting females?

Confidence. Women prefer confident men.
Seduction. Women prefer men who can seduce.

That makes sense too from an evolutionary perspective. Confident, seductive men are likely to do better in trade (ie. are better salesmen and negotiators) and can thereby better provide for a family.

Faruq said at October 29, 2008 6:08 PM:

So how come Nixon had the 5 o clock shadow on his face, but he lost to the clean shaven Kennedy in the tv debates? Obviosuly because Kennedy was much better looking.

Faruq said at October 29, 2008 6:12 PM:

I'm quite good looking,but women can sense that I'm depressed. Even when I pretend to be happy. I swear they have some kind of sixth sense about depression. Nothing kills a potential lay than the woman sensing you're depressed. Hell they'll even go with a fat man over a depressed person. Worst thing is that those women who act all liberal and like they're hippies are every bit prejuidiced against depressed people as normal shallow ladies.

Mthson said at October 29, 2008 7:18 PM:

Faruq, 'getting laid' is for cave men :)

Focus on excellence and productivity and potential romantic partners will always sense that you understand the world better than they do.

Randall Parker said at October 29, 2008 8:07 PM:


As I've stated previously, the people who deny that evolution happened do not seem any worse to me than those who deny the consequences of evolution. In fact, one can deny that evolution happened while accepting the consequences. In other words, one can accept the world as it is while rejecting the evidence for how it got that way. I got more bones to pick with those who deny things as they are today as compared to those who deny the evolutionary past.


I see the enthusiasm for the two parties as a legacy of our evolutionary past. People want to feel tribal identity. It is instinctual. They want to be on one "good" side against the "bad" side.


Hey, having had a couple of depressed girlfriends (and getting woken up at 3 AM to discuss a beautiful woman's anxieties or thoughts of suicide just brings me down) I gotta say I screen out the depressed women. The women who are screening out the depressed men have my full sympathy.

Micha Elyi said at October 29, 2008 10:08 PM:

Researchers said, "our findings confirm what many women have long suspected and claimed – that men act like animals in the sexual realm."

No research is necessary to show women are animals in the sexual realm. There's already plenty of confirming data for that.

Faruq said at October 30, 2008 5:25 PM:

Then how come the most beautiful hollywood legends, like Brando,Elvis,Beatty etc etc were all clean shaven and had no stubble in their phtos?

Bob Badour said at October 30, 2008 7:18 PM:

Brando was baby faced, but he was known more as a great actor than as a sex symbol.

Rock Hudson, in spite of being gay, was more of a sex symbol. Even when he was clean shaved, you could see a shadow. Ditto for Cary Grant. Even with his fair hair and shaved, one can see a shadow where Robert Redford's beard is in his headshot.

One can even see a shadow in most of Warren Beatty's pictures, plus he is the poster child for confidence (and probably seduction too.)

Good thing you mention Elvis, that's the other thing women find attractive: Musical talent.

More recently, Brad Pitt and George Clooney both sported a three day growth when they made it big. Clint Eastwood, Tony Curtis, Tom Cruise, James Dean, Matt Dillon, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, John Travolta all generally have a noticeable shadow. They tend not to wear beards, but you can tell just by looking at them they could if they wanted to.

Faruq said at October 31, 2008 10:45 AM:

The only man I've seen with stubble who pulled it off was Geroge Michael, in the video 'Faith'. He looked very good with his facial hair.

Mohamed Raghe said at February 26, 2009 2:16 AM:

Women shy the one who shy them.

Color doesn't make any sense for women and men.

What makes sense is understandable, honest and good behavior for relationship.

And I agree Bob Badour when he said:
Confidence. Women prefer confident men.
Seduction. Women prefer men who can seduce.

Queen of the Rant said at June 11, 2010 11:59 AM:

Good to know, I hate red though and I look horrible in it...
Relationship Rant

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