Why the Color Red Makes Us React Fast

Red, rojo, rouge, rosso? No matter your native language, the color red evokes emotional and physical responses different from those of other colors. When you think of red, you probably formulate strong mental images such as a ripe apple, a New England barn, the stripes on an American flag, or even Dorothy’s shoes. And now, according to a recent study, red is quantified with increased physical response and velocity of that response in pinch and grip test subjects. When presented color stimuli for response time (velocity) and force of that response, subjects reacted with higher values on these two parameters for, you guessed it, red.So, do the bullfighter’s cape and the business executive’s power tie work to the same end?  Or did the color of the apple seduce Eve?  Red is the beauty of sunsets, the color of love, and the life force that flows through our body — blood.  We “see red” when upset.  And now, as recently demonstrated, we physically react stronger and faster when we see it.  But have we not subconsciously realized this all along?

Tie in the anthropological significance of red in various settings and its myriad evocations, and connect those to emotion, which some say triggers its physical response, and the evidence seems irrefutable. Red is the sports car, by urban legend, most frequently stopped by police. And red is the color of the emergency lights of an ambulance or the flashers on your car.

So as to why we increase our velocity and power of a reaction when in view of red?  Perhaps that is good thing, a neurological trigger that brings us to a quick halt at every traffic light or stop sign. Drivers passing through the green the world over are happy to hear of this confirmation about their fellow travelers coming to a stop. Red, indeed, seems to help us quickly apply the brakes, as the study shows.  Thank goodness for red.

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