This research focuses on the relation between colour 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 behavioural (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 colour can act as a subtle environmental cue that has important influences on behaviour.
Source: “colour and psychological functioning: the effect of red on performance attainment.” from J Exp Psychol Gen. 2007 Feb;136(1):154-68.
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