164 Aggressive in Red

Based on research by Wiedemann, Diane, Burt, D., Michael., Hill, R.A., & Barton, R.A. (2011), written by Mara Rowcliffe, BS.

Did you know the color of your clothing alone might influence how others perceive you?

Psychologist Michael Burt partnered with Anthropology colleagues from Durham University to examine this relationship. They asked 100 men and women volunteers to rate images of men in different colored t-shirts for both aggression and dominance, and identify the images or model’s emotion. Results revealed the men in the images were viewed as more aggressive and angry when they were wearing red compared to the other t-shirt colors. Additionally, the male volunteers also considered the men wearing red to be more dominant while the female volunteers did not. Researchers attributed these results as being inherited from our ancient ancestors. Red often signals aggression in animals and the tendency for men to turn red in the face when they are angry may help serve as a warning sign of danger.

You may want to consider the implications of wearing red in certain social situations like a job interview. Being seen as dominant or aggressive may be an advantage in some cases but a disadvantage in others. When teamwork, cooperation, and coming to an agreement are essential, pick a different color than red!


Wiedemann, D., Burt, D. M., Hill, R. A., & Barton, R. A. (2015). Red clothing increases perceived dominance, aggression and anger. Biology Letters, 11(5), 20150166.

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