We’ve known it in our hearts forever. So have car makers, cosmetics manufacturers and purveyors of Valentine’s Day gifts and greetings. But, now, there’s hard, scientific proof: Red makes the heart grow fonder.

Psychologists at the University of Rochester, NY, have confirmed in a recent study that men rate women wearing red, or in photos framed in red, as more attractive than women wearing other colours or framed in other colours.

Professor Andrew Elliot and his team showed their test subjects two photos each of a number of women, identical in every way except for the colour of their tops, which was varied in the pictures using computer image enhancement technology producing a red version and a blue version. The men consistently preferred the woman in red. Likewise in the border tests, where men preferred the women in photos bordered in red — regardless of what they were wearing — to those in photos bordered in green, grey or white.

Elliot told reporters, red may be linked with attractiveness simply because that association has been a part of human culture for ‘eons’. But the power of the red ‘signal’ may run much deeper. He notes that the phenomenon is not exclusive to humans. Other higher primates, notably some species of chimpanzees and baboons, literally display red on parts of their bodies in their mating rituals.

Elliot notes that the men in the test process did not attribute any preference based on ‘likability, intelligence or kindness’ for the women dressed or framed in red — just attractiveness.

In addition, gay and colour-blind men were excluded from the study.

There’s more to the story, but you get the drift. And I have to go dress shopping — right now…

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