Wearing red signals a woman’s sexual interest to men

Non-human primate females display red on their bodies near ovulation and non-human primate males respond with increased sexual interest and displays.

Human males respond to red coloration too and find women wearing red clothing more attractive and sexually desirable.

The authors of this study wondered if there was a parallel in human females — if a woman displayed red, in this case clothing rather than body parts, to signal her sexual interest to men.

They conducted three experiments to see which women chose a red shirt for the profiles they posted at online dating sites.

In the first experiment 101 women were asked what color shirt they would wear when posting their profile on a dating web site. The women were randomly assigned to read a control scenario or a scenario asking them to imagine being interested in casual sex. Women who imagined having casual sex were more likely to say they would wear a red shirt for their profile.

For the second and third experiments researchers randomly selected female profiles from dating sites. In the second experiment researchers randomly chose 500 women who indicated they were interested in casual sex and 500 women who did not indicate an interest in casual sex.

Women who were interested in casual sex were more likely to wear red in their online profiles. In the third experiment they chose 500 women from a site that emphasized casual sex and 500 women from a site that emphasized long-term commitments.

Again, women interested in casual sex were more likely to wear red than women interested in a long-term commitment. These results find a “provocative parallel” between women and other female primates in the use of red to signal sexual interest, say the authors.