Sunday, August 30, 2009

When in doubt wear red.

New Scientist reports that "referees are more likely to award points to a competitor dressed in red". Also, a couple of related studies:

1. Elliot's team told 67 students that they would be taking either a vocabulary test or an analogies test, and asked them to look inside a folder to find out which one. The students saw either the word "analogies" or the word "vocabulary" on a red or green background - and the colour had a profound effect on their subsequent behaviour. When the students were instructed to walk to an adjacent laboratory to take the test, they found a sign on the door saying "Please knock". Those who had seen a red background knocked fewer times, and more quietly, than those given green.(Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, vol 136, p 154).

2. Ravi Mehta and Juliet Zhu of the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, found that red enhances performance on detail-orientated tasks, whereas blue improves the results of creative tasks. (Science, vol 323, p 1226).

3. It is this context-specificity that Elliot and colleagues are now exploring. Their latest work has investigated innate preference in infants. The team have found that one-year-olds shown red and green Lego bricks tend to reach out for red bricks. Yet when the infants are shown an angry face before being exposed to the blocks, they go for green.

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