Thursday, August 2, 2012

Winners Wear Red?

Anyone who is familiar with psychology is aware that colour can have a profound psychological effect on humans.  While this information is not new, with the London 2012 Olympics in full swing some are questioning whether the colour of team uniforms will have an effect on overall performance.

A recent study explored the idea that athletes who wear red may have an advantage over their rivals.  Exploring a cross section of sports from wrestling, boxing and Taekwondo, the study suggests that red may help you win.

Why red?
  • Exerts dominance and power
  • People who wear red have been noted as having a faster heart rate and elevated breathing
  • Could effect cognitive function - impairing opponents' decision making
  • Referees were found to slightly favour red competitors to those wearing blue
  • Red  is active, aggressive and outspoken which demands attention from observers
In any competitive sport there will be close calls, where it will not be easy to decide the victor and a referee or judge will have to make that decision to the best of their abilities.  It seems that because red has an association with victory, the judgement of the observer can, occasionally, be influenced by the colour of the clothes that competitor's wear. 
For now though, there is still not enough solid evidence to prove that red will make us winners.  What we can say, is that red is a powerful and proud colour and we’re happy to be cheering our Canadian athletes as they wear red and white in the London 2012 Olympics.

References from the SIRC Collection

1. Abrahams R. Seeing red. Cycling Weekly. October 13, 2011;:36-39.
2. Boxer S. Dark forces: are teams that are dressed in black really meaner and tougher than their more cheerfully clad brethren? A scientific study comes up with some somber findings. Sports Illustrated. April 17, 1989;70(17):52-54;56.
3. Frank M, Gilovich T. The dark side of self-perception and social-perception - black uniforms and aggression in professional sports. Journal Of Personality & Social Psychology. 1988;54(1):74-85.
4. LeMaire J, Short S, Ross-Stewart L, Short M. The effect of uniform color on athletes' readiness for competition and perceptions of opponents' attributes. Journal Of Sport & Exercise Psychology. July 2, 2007;29:S180-S181.
5. Robbins S. Sport red for a competitive edge. Shape. February 2006;25(6):37.
6. Seeing Red!. Journal Of Sport & Exercise Psychology. December 2008;30(6):779.

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