november, 2018

20nov1:00 pm2:00 pmRevisiting the effect of red on competition in humansDR Laura Fortunato


Event Details

Bright red colouration is a signal of male competitive ability in animal species across a range of taxa, including non-human primates. Does the effect of red on competition extend to humans? A landmark study in evolutionary psychology established such an effect through analysis of data for four combat sports at the 2004 Athens Olympics. We show that the results do not replicate in an equivalent, independent dataset for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and that there is substantial variation in the fraction of wins by red across sports in both years. We uncover a number of shortcomings with the research design, analysis, and interpretation underlying the original results. For example, the variation observed in the data may reflect systematic biases towards wins by one colour, linked to specific features of the tournament structure for the sports analysed. Re-analysis of the data to address these shortcomings indicates that there is no evidence of an effect of red on the outcomes of Olympic combat sports. Our results refute past claims about the role of colour in human competition, based on analysis of this system. In turn, this undermines the related notion that any effect of red on human behaviour is an evolved response shaped by sexual selection.

Link to Laura Fortunato’s website

If you like to meet with Laura please contact Andy Gardner


(Tuesday) 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm


Dyer's Brae Seminar Room

Dyers Brae, School of Biology, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Greenside Place, Fife, KY16 9TH, UK


Maria Tello Ramos, Niki Khan, Nick Jones, Carolin Kosiol