It’s long been regarded as the colour of love but now researchers have found the real reason why men prefer ladies in red.
Put simply, they think a woman wearing red is more likely to sleep with them on a first date.
Psychologists who studied 120 male students aged 18 to 21 discovered most thought choosing to wear red meant a woman had ‘greater sexual intent’ and was more likely to jump into bed with a man than someone who opted for more neutral colours, such as green, blue or white.
And the item in question does not need to be a revealing top, or a sexy short skirt, researchers found.
The findings, published in the latest Journal of Social Psychology, confirm the powerful influence that the colour of clothing can have on how men perceive a member of the opposite sex.
Previous studies have shown that men will ask more intimate questions of a woman and sit closer to her if she is wearing a red rather than green blouse.
Other research suggests female hitch hikers who choose a red top get more lifts from male drivers but not from female ones.
To establish exactly how red affects a man’s perception of a woman, psychologists at the University of South Brittany in France enlisted 120 male undergraduates and split them into four groups.
Each volunteer spent 30 seconds looking at an image of the same 20-year-old woman but with the colour of her top altered for each group to red, blue, green or white.
The students then completed a questionnaire which asked them to rate, on a scale of one to nine, how attractive they thought the woman was.
They also had to rate her in terms of how likely they thought it was that she would have sex with a man on the first date.
The woman was judged to be most attractive when she was wearing the red top, followed by white, blue and finally green.
She was also judged, by some considerable margin, to be most likely to agree to sex when she wore red, followed by blue, green and finally white.
In a report on their findings, the researchers said the results supported their hypothesis that men see red as an invitation for sex.
‘Studies have shown that red is connected to lust and romantic love as well as to female fertility.
‘But biological evolution could also explain the importance of redness. During their fertility phase, the perineum of female baboons, macaques and chimpanzees becomes red, probably to attract males.
‘For the first time, our experiment shows clothes have the ability to lead men to perceive a woman wearing a red tee-shirt as having greater sexual intent than one wearing blue, white, or green.’
Psychologist Dr Glenn Wilson, visiting professor of psychology at Gresham College in London, said research also shows men wearing red are more attractive to women because they are seen as having higher status.
‘But women in red are attractive to men because of its passionate associations. These effects operate unconsciously and probably derive from the fact that red is a significant colour in nature, signalling danger and causing excitement.’