Male athletes who choose to wear the colour red in competition have higher levels of the male hormone testosterone than men who pick the colour blue, a British study suggests.
Men who wear red could be sending an unconscious signal about their competitiveness to their opponents, the researchers suggested in the study, which is to be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science.
"The research shows that there is something special about the colour red in competition, and that it is associated with our underlying biological systems," study leader Daniel Farrelly, a psychological scientist at the University of Sunderland, said in a news release from the Association for Psychological Science.
High-profile athletes wearing red
The researchers pointed out their findings may help explain why many high-profile athletes, such as golf great Tiger Woods, wear red clothing.
In conducting the study, the researchers told 73 men they would be completing a competitive task and their performance would be posted. The men were asked to choose between a red or blue symbol to represent themselves in the competition. They also answered questionnaires to help determine why they may have chosen one colour over the other.
The researchers took saliva samples from the men at the beginning of the study and again at the end to measure their testosterone levels.
The study revealed that the men who selected red had higher testosterone levels. These men also believed red signified greater dominance and aggression than the men who chose blue.
Although the colour athletes wear doesn't actually affect their performance, previous studies have shown it could provide an advantage by influencing how opponents perceive them, the researchers noted.
The US National Library of Medicine has more about testosterone.