Thursday, 10 September 2009
Red is the colour most associated, at least in Western cultures*, with power and dominance. Tiger Woods famously wears a red shirt for the last day of a major. Liverpool, Man Utd and Arsenal, the three teams who have dominated the Premier League/First Division in the post war period, all wear red. Most importantly England won the 1966 World Cup wearing red. But surely this is all just a complete coincidence?
Apparently not, according to the latest research. It seems that what colour someone is wearing can measurably influence what happens to them.
Under controlled conditions umpires scored close Taekwondo bouts in favour of the red competitor more often than the blue. Football teams wearing red won more often than would be expected. Women were hotter when they were wearing red.
Just stop and think for a moment how unbelievable that is. It's almost certain that olympic medals and league titles have been won and lost on the basis of a kit colour. Can you imagine a referee ever owning up to giving Man Utd (red) a penalty against Everton (blue) because he thinks red is a dominant colour?
So what's the lesson from this? This kind of research reinforces my understanding that so little of our actual motivations are consciously accessible. It means if we truly want to understand people we have to dig deeper than just what they tell us.
That, and always wear red to a date if you want to get treated right.
*[it'd be interesting to know if these finding are culturally robust]