According to a new study, seeing the color red may help to move the muscles faster and stronger with more force. This new finding may have applications in sports and other activities where a quick boost of energy is required.
According to researcher Andrew Elliot, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, his increased energy is due to the enhancement of physical reactions on seeing the color red which is deemed as a clue for emergency. The researchers feel that many people are not aware of the effect of red color in enhancing the physical performance. The quick boost in energy levels is also associated with a number of emotional changes. Red color evokes worry, distraction, and self-preoccupation which may dampen the spirits and affect the performance.
In this study, the muscle reactions of students in two different sets of experiments were compared. In the first experiment, a group of 30 students pinched and held open the metal clasp after reading the participant number. The number was written in either red or grey color. In another experiment a group of students squeezed a hand-grip using their dominant hand as hard as they could. They squeezed the grip as the instruction ‘squeeze’ appeared on a computer screen on a red, blue or gray background. The colors were similar in intensity, brightness and hue.
The results, published in the journal Emotion, showed that in the first experiment, the pressure of the grip intensified whenever the participants saw the color red on screen. In the second experiment, the reaction speed improved whenever the participants saw the red background. But many earlier studies have shown that color red is counterproductive for skilled motor and mental tasks. For example, athletes tend to lose whenever they compete with an opponent who is wearing a red uniform. Further, students who see the color red before the test tend to have a poor performance in the test. Elliot says that the color affects us in many ways depending on the context.