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New Study Suggests Color Red Increases Speed and Strength

By , black-rose-bielefeld.de GuideJune 8, 2011

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the color red

A new study in the journal Emotion suggests that people react faster and more forcefully when they see the color red. According to Andrew Elliot, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, red helps enhance physical reactions because it is seen as a cue for danger.

In the first of two experiments, 30 students ranging from the fourth through tenth grade were asked to pinch and hold open a metal clasp. Right before performing this task, students read aloud a number that was either printed in gray or red crayon. For the second experiment, 46 college students were asked to squeeze a hand-grip as hard as they could with their dominant hand. As they did this, they also read the word "squeeze" on a computer screen that displayed with either a red, gray or blue background.

In both experiments, the color red significantly increased the force that the participants exerted over those exposed to the gray or blue color conditions. In the second experiment, participants exposed to the red background screen also reacted significantly faster.

While the authors suggest that such findings may be useful in situations that require a brief burst of speed and strength, such as sporting competitions, the authors note that the results may depend largely on the situation. Earlier research has found that the color red can actually be counterproductive in situations that require skilled mental and motor skills. Students exposed to the color red before a test tend to perform worse and athletes who compete against an opponent wearing red are more likely to lose.

The authors also caution that these energy boosting effects are most likely short-lived.

"Color affects us in many ways depending on the context," explains Elliot, a leading researcher in the field of color psychology. "Those color effects fly under our awareness radar."

Learn more about the effects of color psychology including how different colors may effect moods, emotions and behaviors.

Learn more about this story:

  • Color Red Increases the Speed and Strength of Reactions- The University of Rochester

Photo by mediaphotos / iStockPhoto


June 8, 2011 at 11:33 am
(1)Rajamohan Ph Dsays:

True. Similar trials were done. Pink reduces the manifest aggression of prisoners
Prof G Rajamohan

December 17, 2012 at 7:28 am

thanks for the many insight your website publishes with respect to the field of color perception. its only appropriate that a psychology website also provide adequate referencing (no doubt APA format) with regard to any published material so that readers know the sources! thanks.

January 29, 2021 at 11:58 pm
(3)Rolando Guerzosays:

That?s true! I also noticed that I tend to have more appetite eating if the dining table cloth is red. No wonder bulls get angered by red and drivers tend to be annoyed by red too. hehe

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