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Color red increases the speed and strength of reactions

June 3, 2011
Color Red

The intensifying effect of the color red may have applications for sporting and other activities in which a brief burst of strength and speed is needed. The color energy boost is likely short-lived, the researchers said (credit: J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester)

Researchers at the University of Rochester have determined that when humans see the color red, their reactions become both faster and more forceful.

The researchers measured the reactions of students in two experiments. In the first, 30 fourth-through-10th graders pinched and held open a metal clasp. Right before doing so, they read aloud their participant number written in either red or gray crayon.

In the second experiment, 46 undergraduates squeezed a handgrip with their dominant hand as hard as possible when they read the word “squeeze” on a computer monitor. The word appeared on a red, blue, or gray background.

In both scenarios, red significantly increased the force exerted, with participants in the red condition squeezing with greater maximum force than those in the gray or blue conditions, the researchers said.

Ref.: Andrew J. Elliot, Henk Aarts, Perception of the color red enhances the force and velocity of motor output, Emotion, Vol 11(2), Apr 2011, 445-449

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