A “Healthy” Color: Information About Healthy Eating Attenuates the “Red Effect”

  •  Alyssa Gilston    
  •  Gregory Privitera    


The influence of the color red on our evaluative processes and psychological, emotional, and cognitive decision making is known as the “red effect.” The present study tested the hypothesis that this “red effect” could be attenuated by information about the healthfulness of an individual’s diet. To test this hypothesis 122 participants rated the attractiveness and healthfulness of a picture of the same female wearing a red or white (neutral color) shirt who was described as eating a healthy or unhealthy food.  Results showed that participants did rate the female wearing the red shirt as more attractive (evidence of the “red effect”). However, when the female was described as eating an unhealthy food, the red effect was not significant. These findings suggest that the red effect is robust, but can be attenuated by manipulating the perceptions of health.

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