It's interesting to consider why the color red sends the same message everywhere: danger, hot, stop. It also means dominance--athletes wearing red (as the Giants did in the recent Superbowl) seem to win more often.
It could be explained because red is the color of fire, but it's unlikely that it would assume the same meaning in almost every culture--unless it's part of human evolution. Primate studies reveal that this may indeed be the case.
When experimenters wearing different colored tee shirts offered food to male rhesus macaques, they avoided taking it from the people wearing red. Science Daily quotes neuroscientist Jerald D. Kralik as saying, "The similarity of our results with those in humans suggests that avoiding red or acting submissively in its presence may stem from an inherited psychological predisposition.
"We--primates and then humans--are very visual," Kralik explains. "We are also very social." In both realms, color has important effects, from telling us which food is edible to helping us gauge the emotions of others by the relative redness of their skin. Put the two together, he says, "and we start to see that color may have a deeper and wider-ranging influence on us than we have previously thought."
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