When picking out a new dress, you make sure the cut, shape and style is perfectly suited for the occasion. But how much thought do you put into the choice of colour? Previous research has shown that men perceive the colour red to be a signal of sexual receptivity. What does it mean to other women? Researchers from the University of Rochester, Trnava University and the Slovak Academy of Sciences collaborated to investigate the subject.
Results from the experiments found three key findings. The first, confirmed that women found other women in red to be more sexually receptive, in comparison to white or green. In terms of derogation, participants who viewed a woman in red were more likely to derogate the woman’s sexual fidelity. Finally, women were more likely to guard their partner from a woman dressed in red, if they were in a committed relationship.
Amongst other factors, such as body language and facial expressions, clothing conveys important information to others; occasionally with unintended social consequences. Giving off the appropriate social tone can be very important for dates, meetings and social events. The study asked individuals to compare a digital image of a woman wearing red versus a woman wearing white. Participants were asked questions about the woman’s sexual receptivity, such as: “Is this person interested in sex?” They then answered the question on a sliding scale that rated how likely they thought the woman was to be interested in sex. This concluded that participants rated the woman in red as more sexually receptive than the woman in white.
Next, the researchers applied the same scale to female participants, who were asked a series of questions relating to whether they thought the digital woman would be likely to cheat. Questions included: “How likely would you be to introduce this person to your boyfriend?” and “How likely would you be to let your boyfriend spend time alone with this person?” They found that women were more likely to derogate the woman wearing red and, in conjunction, would be more likely to guard their partner from a woman wearing red. Lead researcher, Adam Pazda, explains: “Mate-guarding is the act of protecting one’s own romantic partner from romantic or sexual encounters with others.”
The final chapter of the study replaced the white dress with a green dress, to ensure there was no bias in associating white and purity. Pazda said: “Using green allowed us to equate both hues on lightness and chroma, which allowed for a more rigorous, controlled test of the red effect.” Previous research from the University of British Columbia found that the colour blue is associated with feelings of openness and peace. People feel safer exploring their ideas when they’re surrounded by the calming colour and it induces tranquility and relaxation.
In 2007, the colour green was shown to represent money and wealth, in a study from the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. It also created the perception of creativity, even increasing the success of participants in creative tasks.
The world has seen extravagant changes in fashion and trends, with the latest popular colours blossoming from yellow to purple. There has even been a historic ‘Bubelle Dress’ created four years ago, which had biometric sensors to pick up on a person’s emotions and project the appropriate colour into the dress. Pick a dress that you feel comfortable in, enjoy the colour of it and be aware of the different moods a colour can represent to others.
What is your favourite colour dress and why?