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Red is a Powerful Color

Winning sports teams are often those who wear red, because it helps their muscles work better. When humans see red, their reactions become both faster and more forceful.

Aside from athletes, most people are unaware of the color's intensifying effect. This may have applications for activities in which a brief burst of strength and speed is needed, such as weightlifting. But researchers warn that the color energy boost is likely short-lived. Psychologist Andrew Elliot says, "Red enhances our physical reactions because it is seen as a danger cue. Humans flush when they are angry or preparing for attack. People are acutely aware of such reddening in others and its implications."

Research also has documented that men and women are unconsciously attracted to the opposite sex when they wear red. Elliot says, "Those color effects fly under our awareness radar." But psychologist Henk Aarts says that, aong with mobilizing extra energy, "threat also evokes worry, task distraction, and self-preoccupation, all of which have been shown to tax mental resources."

In earlier color research, exposure to red has proven counterproductive for skilled motor and mental tasks: athletes competing against an opponent wearing red are more likely to lose and students exposed to red before a test perform worse.

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