2017年7月12日 星期三

Why The Color Red Revs Your Desire (But Lowers Your IQ)

The oldest cave paintings in the world are about 40,000 years old.
Images of dots in Spain, Buffalo in France, and stenciled hands in Indonesia. These were painted by tribes thousands of miles and hundreds of years apart, but they all have one thing in common.
They are all red.
So starts our species fascination with the color. Red has a hold over us like no other pigment, signifying attraction, danger, boldness, and sex. In today’s world, it can symbolize love or hatred, courage or mistake depending on context, and we understand this context and meaning immediately, ready for flight or flight, or fun.
This in-built significance and symbolism to humans is a major boon to the designers of the world. No other color can convey so much meaning about a product or a brand. Many brands and designs use red to evoke certain emotions: excitement, passion, freshness, boldness.
Take Coca-Cola.  This is perhaps the most famous design and brand that associates with red.
The iconic design of a red can or bottle and the white ‘Coca-Cola’ script is known throughout the world.
Coca-Cola uses this red to convey the excitement and freshness you are supposed to associate with drink and ice cold Coke. If the color of Coca-Cola was blue (a la Pepsi), or green, yellow, or brown, would your thirst be quench so vigorously?
Because of this symbolism and the fact red intuitively means so much to us, a lot of study has gone into own fascination with the color red, how it came to be so, how it plays with our emotions and desires, and what happens to us physiologically and psychologically when we see the color.

Use Red To Instill Desire

Red is inextricably linked with desire. Think about ruby red lipstick, a dozen red roses, or the woman in the red dress from The Matrix.
You might think that this is a cultural thing, that with colors having different meanings the world over, it is just western cultures that have come up with the idea that red means sex. But it seems this isn’t the case. Men feel the ‘red effect’ the world over.
A joint US/Canadian study studied a small, isolated community in Burkina Faso. What was particularly interesting about this tribe was that red usually had negative connotations in this group. For these Burkinabe, red meant bad luck and illness. But the young men of this community still found that red stoked their desire. When images of the same women were shown on a red background or a neutral background, the men always plumped for the red women. These findings replicate those from Europe and elsewhere in the world. Men just can’t get enough of red it seems.
Why probably goes back millions and millions of years, to before humans roamed the earth. Many of our ape cousins – Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Bonobos, and Orangutans – have two things in common: bare-skin and trichromatic vision.
I have covered trichromatic vision before. We, along with some other higher primates can see in three colors – blue, green, and importantly red – whereas most animals only see blues and greens. Scientists think that once our ape-ancestors started to lose their hair, the possibility to see blood coursing through veins became an option. When females of many primate species are in peak fertility their skin reddens. Any male monkey with the ability to see this red, with his awesome tricolore eyes, was at an obvious advantage. Red became a signal for sexual peak, and our eyes evolved to pick these signals up.
It might have skipped your attention, but human females don’t go bright red when they are ovulating. So why is this still a thing? Well, it seems our brains just can’t let go of any idea that is so deeply ingrained. Another Canadian group looked at how women single their peak fertility time. Lo and behold, red flashed its lovely head once more.
The researchers found that women at a high conception risk were three times more likely to were red than women at a low conception risk, and 77 per cent of women wearing red were found to be at peak fertility. There seems to be some unconscious signal that makes us pick out red to use as a visual cue whenever we are… in need.
Designers can, and do, take advantage of this. In fact,
almost any advertisement, brand, or product that is meant to appeal to our baser instincts will come with a flash of red.
A great example of this is the red sole of the Louboutin shoe. Louboutin chose red because of its association with desire and passion. The bright, monochromatic red contrasts with the rest of the shoe, standing out and showing that the shoes are original Louboutins – other brands have tried to copy the design, but Louboutin trademarked the red sole in 2012.

Red Can Help You Win

Along with desire, we also associate red with dominance. Whereas a reddened face of our female primate ancestors signified attraction, a red-faced male meant aggression.
This is something that we definitely still see today. Whenever we get flustered, worked-up, and angry we go red, just like in the cartoons (sans steam out of the ears). Just seeing red can increase your heart rate, blood pressure and make you more excited.
Designers can take advantage of this excitement to bring people along on the emotional journey of their brand or product. An iconic use of red for excitement purposes is Ferrari. The association between excitement and red is no doubt why Enzo Ferrari chose the color for his classic race cars.

A 2011 study by Andrew Elliot and Hent Aarts examined how looking at certain colors affected people’s grip strength – basically how tight they made a fist. When the subjects looked at red relative to all the other colors, they always made a tighter fist, and more quickly. They were preparing themselves for what red signifies: a fight. The color red has the ability to override your motor control and get you ready for something bad to happen.
Because it gets our adrenaline pumping and is perceived as a sign of dominance, it might be no surprise that wearing red during sports can help you win.
After the 2004 Olympics, Russell Hill and Robert Barton, from the Evolutionary Anthropology Research Group at the University of Durham in the UK, looked at who won and who lost in the combat events, and what color they were wearing. Red or blue attire is assigned to each fighter, so Hill and Barton could see who won out of the red and blue teams.
Designers therefore need to take care when using the color red. It can have an immediate and unconscious effect on our bodily functions: raising heart rates and blood pressure, making us tense, and getting us ready to fight off all comers. Maybe not what you want on a website dedicated to relaxation, or a baby product then.