The Color Red Makes Us Jealous (and Other Weird Tricks Colors Play On Our Minds)
Got a favorite red shirt, sweater or dress? You might want to keep it tucked in the back of your closet. According to a new study, courtesy of the psychology department at the University of Rochester, women in red tend to make other women jealous. Sounds a bit ridiculous, right? The researchers behind the study don’t think so.
They showed 500 female participants a woman wearing red as well as women wearing white and green. The participants then rated their perception of the women’s sexuality. Participants repeatedly rated the woman in red higher on the sexuality scale and admitted she posed more of a threat to a romantic relationship. Participants also determined the woman in red was less likely to remain faithful to her partner. OK, that’s a bit much to decide based only on the COLOR of a person’s clothes, but we’re just the messengers.
One of the researchers did clarify one thing: while the color of the clothing might make someone feel defensive, the study did not gauge whether or not it affected behavior. “I really can’t stress enough the point that I wouldn’t say that this applies to every single woman all the time,” Adam Pazda, the study’s lead researcher, told LiveScience. “The results in our study are just average tendencies. It’s certainly not the case that any time a woman wears red, she is going to be isolated or excluded by other women.”
That’s a relief. This got us thinking: how do other colors make us feel? What’s the psychology behind color? We fell into an Internet research hole and here’s what we found:
Unsurprisingly, yellow is associated with happiness, laughter, hope and sunshine. Whether found in home design or fashion, it’s generally used to brighten up a palette. Wisegeek.com claims the color boosts seratonin levels in the brain. Interestingly, yellow can also create feelings of frustration. In fact, babies are more likely to lose their tempers in yellow rooms, according to the The Wagner Institute of Color Research.
For many people, blue has a calming effect. It’s usually described as peaceful, serene, and tranquil. It’s the color most preferred by men. If you’re wondering why your office walls are blue, it’s because studies (like this one at Columbia University) have shown people are most creative in blue rooms.
Green is used to relieve stress. Green also represents freshness and new beginnings. Green can also be a symbol of growth and “facilitate creative performance,” according to a study by Dr. Stephanie Lichtenfeld, an assistant professor of psychology at Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich.
According to this color symbolism chart, though not as aggressive as red, orange can give the sensation of heat. But since it’s a mix of red and yellow, it strikes a nice balance—resulting in optimism and joy. It’s also believed to stimulate mental activity and increase the oxygen supply to the brain, color specialist Leatrice Eiseman tells the Huffington Post.
For some time, white’s been associated with sterility and cleanliness. Ever go to a hospital? The reason lab coats are white, according to Slate’s Adrian Chen, is because it “symbolizes life and purity.”
Though the most pronounced color, black is also the most mysterious. It’s associated with fear in multiple cultures, according to research published in the Journal of Cross Cultural Study. At the same time, wearing black is considered formal, elegant, and prestigious, in Western society. It’s an enigma. It’s also not technically a color, so chew on that.
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