NCBI ROFL: Why women like men in red cars.

By ncbi rofl | March 15, 2011 7:00 pm

Red, rank, and romance in women viewing men.

“In many nonhuman species of vertebrates, females are attracted to red on male conspecifics. Red is also a signal of male status in many nonhuman vertebrate species, and females show a mating preference for high-status males. These red-attraction and red-status links have been found even when red is displayed on males artificially. In the present research, we document parallels between human and nonhuman females’ response to male red. Specifically, in a series of 7 experiments we demonstrate that women perceive men to be more attractive and sexually desirable when seen on a red background and in red clothing, and we additionally show that status perceptions are responsible for this red effect. The influence of red appears to be specific to women’s romantic attraction to men: Red did not influence men’s perceptions of other men, nor did it influence women’s perceptions of men’s overall likability, agreeableness, or extraversion. Participants showed no awareness that the research focused on the influence of color. These findings indicate that color not only has aesthetic value but can carry meaning and impact psychological functioning in subtle, important, and provocative ways.”

Photo: flickr/jonmasters

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WTF is NCBI ROFL? Read our FAQ!

  • Idlewilde

    Most red carred (or bright carred) men in my expierience don’t signal and pull too far into the walklane. Today, a kid in a shiny red suv, younger than me, turned at the walk light and drove past me, with a wolf whistle. His car was maybe 2-3 feet away; I could have touched it. I know I probably should have reported him, but I was too surprised to notice the licence plate. As far as I can tell, the brighter the car, the sorer the need for an attitude adjustment.

    ^sorry for rant…

  • Sam

    Could social implications be a factor? Red lipstick has been deemed sexually desirable for a long time and the iconic red love heart insinuates love. Was this study carried out with other bright colours such as blue or green and what age were the participants?


  • Neon Sequitur

    I can’t drive a red car; it won’t match *anything* in my wardrobe!

  • Matt B.

    I’d like to see if there’s a corresponding color for women’s status. It might help them at work if they painted the back wall of their offices that color. (Going for status here, not mating.) And I’m pretty sure pink isn’t it.


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NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl


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