Crazy Ways the Colors Red and Blue Control Your Life

Give You an Unfair Advantage

We previously mentioned how hockey players who switched to black jerseys suddenly took a turn for the aggressive, because on a subconscious level black signifies sin and death and the worst jellybean. Not only does black spur aggression from the players, but it cues the referees to hand out more penalties because, hey, they must be the bad guys if they’re wearing black. But if you want to get on the ref’s good side, apparently red is your color.

During the 2004 Olympics, judges were found to award more points to people in red, especially in hand-to-hand sports like boxing, taekwondo, Greco-Roman wrestling and the synchronized bitch slap. A separate study had taekwondo refs watch matches between blue and red competitors, then watch the exact same matches with the colors digitally reversed. Athletes were 13 percent more likely to get points when they wore red.

And if you think that red is only a “power” color because we’ve been raised to associate it with warning signs and fire trucks, then why do monkeys also react to it? In one experiment, researchers wore red, blue or green before presenting rhesus macaques with dinner. The monkeys didn’t have a problem with blue or green, but they treated the red shirts like they were the monkey Grim Reaper presenting death on a plate. Yes, even our poop-flinging cousins think red equals danger. And danger equals power.

This manifests itself in humans in so many ways that you can probably find an example in the room you’re in. Like lipstick. A study in France showed that women who wear bright red lipstick get a tip boost from men, which is a big deal because France already includes a 12 percent gratuity charge on receipts (lady patrons weren’t nearly as impressed by their red-lipped waitresses).

The researchers noted that the rise in tips by male customers could be due to red being “associated with an indication of estrogen levels, sexual arousal and health” (hint: all of this comes back to the fact that red is the color of blood), so when a lady wears red, it tricks a man into thinking that she’s ready to mate. At which point he will happily give her whatever she wants.