The Science Behind St. Valentine's Day

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red flower
Image: Ovidiu Onea via Flickr

St. Valentine’s Day has become synonymous with the color red. We eat chocolate covered red strawberries, men send women red roses, and we send each other cards adored with red hearts. But, why the color red? 

Science has found that the color red enhances our attraction to another person. At the University of Rochester, Psychologist Daniela Niesta conducted a study that measured men’s attraction to the same woman by varying colors. She showed the same woman to different men, but varied the background colors or showed the woman wearing a red or blue shirt. Next she told the men "Imagine that you are going on a date with this person and have $100 in your wallet. How much money would you be willing to spend on your date?" 

 Under all conditions, women wearing red or having a red background were viewed as more attractive. But, that’s not all. The study found that the men were more likely to ask the “red” woman out and treat her to a more expensive outing.

The researcher’s then tested the effect of the color red on women. They asked a group of women to rate the pictures of men whose shirt color where digitally altered. The women also rated the pictures of men wearing red more attractive and sexually desirable. The men wearing red were perceived as having a higher social status, more likely to make money and more likely to climb the social ladder. The women also reported a higher willingness to date, kiss, and engage in other sexual activity with the “red” men.


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