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A study recently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology offers some interesting insight into how men perceive women who wear red, and how this perception is context dependent.

You can read the general version of the study here, and basically, to summarize, this research suggests that the color red can make a man feel more attracted to a woman. While some of this is undoubtedly societally conditioned, the researchers suggest that the color red actually harkens back to our more primitive biology.

Female chimpanzees and baboons tend to redden conspicuously when nearing ovulation- and this is a clear sexual signal to males of the species.

The study highlights that women framed by, or wearing red, were rated significantly more attractive and desirable compared to the exact same pictures of women wearing other colors. This result did not hold true for women, as they did not rate women wearing red as more attractive or desirable by comparison.

The positive associations of red seem to be strongest in social contexts, rather than competitive ones.

This type of research offers some interesting implications for product design and marketing. It would seem that you can get men to take more notice of products or marketing which emphasizes women framed in, or wearing, the color red.

It will be interesting to watch if this trend starts to show up in online and offline advertising.