Red may be any of a number of similar colors at the lowest frequencies of light discernible by the human eye. Red is one of the three primary colors of visible light, the others being green and blue. Red light has a wavelength range of roughly 625–760 nm. Frequencies lower than this are called infrared, or below red and cannot be seen by human eyes, although some infrared frequencies can be felt as heat. Red is associated with anger, death, blood, passion and love.
It is thus associated with the danger of failure in achievement contexts. It evokes avoidance motivation and might also make us perform worse in tests, exams and in daily challenges.
Researchers at the University of Rochester in New York, found that people who were shown a flash of the colour red before an IQ test or a major exam thought more about failure, were more prone to mistakes and generally performed worse.
“Colour clearly has aesthetic value, but it can also carry specific meaning and convey specific information,” said Andrew Elliot, the study leader. The researchers also added, “Care must be taken in how red is used in achievement contexts”. The colour can cause people to shy away from certain questions if they are given a choice between colour-coded questions.
Exp Psychol Gen. 2007 Feb;136(1):154-68.Click here to read Links
Color and psychological functioning: the effect of red on performance attainment.
* Elliot AJ, Maier MA, Moller AC, Friedman R, Meinhardt J.
Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, USA. email@example.com
This research focuses on the relation between color and psychological functioning, specifically, that between red and performance attainment. Red is hypothesized to impair performance on achievement tasks, because red is associated with the danger of failure in achievement contexts and evokes avoidance motivation. Four experiments demonstrate that the brief perception of red prior to an important test (e.g., an IQ test) impairs performance, and this effect appears to take place outside of participants’ conscious awareness. Two further experiments establish the link between red and avoidance motivation as indicated by behavioral (i.e., task choice) and psychophysiological (i.e., cortical activation) measures. The findings suggest that care must be taken in how red is used in achievement contexts and illustrate how color can act as a subtle environmental cue that has important influences on behavior. ((c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved).
PMID: 17324089 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]