Publicat pe

Piotrowski, Chris. (2012). Color Red:

Piotrowski, Chris. (2012).

55 PSYCHOLOGY AND EDUCATION – AN INTERDISCIPLINARY JOURNAL  2012, 49(1-2)Color Red: Implications for Applied Psychologyand Marketing Research Chris Piotrowski and Terry ArmstrongUniversity of West FloridaCollege of BusinessPensacola, FL 32514 Research shows that the color Red elicits predominantly negative reactions inhumans, i.e., avoidance motivation, threat, and danger.

Most investigators use thecolor Red as the stimulus (e.g., warning signs, red colored objects, blood). Thisstudy presents a novel paradigm in that the term Red was rated as part of aresponse format; respondents rated 14 bi-polar adjective scales on a semanticdifferential instrument based on their perception of potentially adverse concepts(one of the scales was Red-Green). Data were obtained from 2 studies on attitudestoward the IRS and the federal TARP program (see Piotrowski & Guyette, 2009,2011).

Results from both studies show that respondents evaluated thesecontroversial issues as more ‘Red’. These findings suggest that the color Red isassociated with perceived onerous issues or events and has a negative connotation.Implications for the field of consumer behavior, human factors, applied psychology,and marketing research were noted. Future studies should extend the knowledgebase on the functional aspects of color. IntroductionColors are a ubiquitous feature of the environment and human experience.Research has indicated that colors elicit or promote an emotional response inhumans, both positive and negative (Griffith & Leonard, 1997). In recent years,there has been keen research interest on how humans react to colors and how colorsimpact us in everyday interactions.

Thus, the study of colors has become anemergent area of investigation across various fields, including social psychology,perception, ergonomics, and environmental psychology. Moreover, research oncolors is a key subject of study in the business world, in such areas as consumerbehavior, advertising, and marketing (Weitz & Wensley, 2002). 

The color Red has garnered the attention of researchers. Studies show that thecolor Red is a universally primary color associated with strong emotions (Hale,2007; Swihart et al., 1999), high arousal potential (Crane & Hicks, 1989), andenhancement of strong visceral and motor response (Elliot & Aarts, 2011).

Therefore, it is not surprising that the color Red is found to be associated with threatand danger (e.g., Gerendt & Sias, 2009; Wogalter et al., 1998). In the real world,vehicle operators are primed to be vigilant to ‘Red’ traffic signs and warnings(Griffith & Leonard, 1997). At the same time, the color Red can be associated withpositive sentiments, such as a Red heart on Valentine’s Day, red fashion attire, and‘Red’ sports cars.   

Color Red 56  The aim of this research was to determine if people associate the color Red tonegative events or issues. Since Osgood and colleagues (see Snider & Osgood,1969) studied the connotative meaning of colors, we utilized their innovativesemantic differential technique to address the issue. 

MethodThe study design used a novel approach in that it did not use Red as the primestimulus. Instead, respondents reacted to an a priori determined negative issue(stimulus) utilizing a response format where the word ‘Red’ was rated on a 7-point scale. To accomplish this, we used the semantic differential (SD) instrument (Snider& Osgood, 1969) with 14 bi-polar adjective scales. One scale was Red-Green.

Thisprovided the instrument with a semi-projective nature, since respondents were notquite sure how the SD was scored or the intent of introducing colors to the ratingexercise. In fact, several studies have utilized the SD measure and procedure in thestudy of color (Griffith & Leonard, 1997; Lee, 1999). Data were obtained from 2 separate studies that reported on students’ attitudes toward the IRS (Piotrowski & Guyette, 2009) and views on the TARP bailoutprogram (Piotrowski & Guyette, 2011).

In both of these studies, the respondentsheld rather negative attitudes on the 2 issues, based on scores on the Evaluationdimension of the SD. Afterward, scores on the 7 point bi-polar scale (Red-Green)were obtained and subjected to a one-sample t-test procedure. The neutral score wasthe mid-point, i.e., a score of 4. Results and DiscussionThe IRS study sample (N=24) was found to have a mean of 3.0 on the Red-Green scale.

This indicated that these respondents viewed the IRS as significantly more Red than Green (1 standard deviation from the mean). In study 2, respondents(N=57) rated the TARP program as somewhat more Red than Green (M=3.4); thisvalue approached significance.

Overall, these results provide tentative support to thenotion that concepts or issues that have a negative connotation will be eitherperceived as more ‘Red’ or associated with the color Red. These findings alsosupport research that utilized the same SD technique and procedure (using colors asbi-polar response options) in assessing views or attitudes on public policy(Piotrowski & Guyette, 2010). 

The findings of this study corroborate research that purport that the color Redhas a negative connotation for humans. Moreover, the current findings shouldprovide an impetus for additional research on how color affects behavior,perceptions, attitudes, and sentiments (e.g., Smeesters & Liu, 2011). Such findingshave implications for marketing research, such as the issue of avoidance motivation(Janaka & Tokuno, 2011) and personality factors (Singg & Whiddon, 2000).

Inaddition, research in this area should be welcomed by applied psychologists,particularly in studies with a focus on the functional aspects of color (Elliot &Aarts, 2011; James & James, 1989).  

PSYCHOLOGY AND EDUCATION – AN INTERDISCIPLINARY JOURNAL  References Crane, L., & Hicks, R.A. (1989). Preference for color red and activation: A test of Thayer’stheory. Psychological Reports, 64, 947-950. Elliot, A. J., & Aarts, H. (2011). Perception of the color red enhances the force and velocityof motor output. Emotion, 11, 445-449. Gerend, M., & Sias, T. (2009). Message framing and color priming: How subtle threat cuesaffect persuasion. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 999-1007. 

Griffith, L.J., & Leonard, D. (1997). Association of colors with warning signal words. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 20, 317-325.  Hale, C. (2007). Follow the red: Exploring the archetypal experience of color. Dissertation Abstracts International, 67(10-B), 6056.  James, L.A., & James, L. R. (1989). Integrating work environment perceptions: Explorationsinto the measurement of meaning. Journal of Applied Psychology, 74, 739-751. Lee, T. (1999).

A study of the relation between hue variations and affective responses incolor communications. Dissertation Abstracts International, (July, A), 14. Piotrowski, C., & Guyette, R.W. (2009). How potent do business students view the IRS andrelated business issues? Organization Development Journal, 27(3), 97-101. Piotrowski, C., & Guyette, R.W. (2010).

The case for the semantic differential inorganizational and business research. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 37(4), 337-339. Piotrowski, C., & Guyette, R.W. (2011). Business students’ attitudes on the TARP program: A semantic differential analysis. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 38, in press. Singg, S., & Whiddon, T.L. (2000).

Relationship between preference for red and locus ofcontrol. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 91, 84-87. Smeesters, D., & Liu, J. (2011). The effect of color (red versus blue) on assimilation versuscontrast in prime-to-behavior effects. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47, 653-661. Snider, J.G., & Osgood, C.E. (Eds.). (1969). Semantic Differential Technique. Chicago, IL:Aldine. Swihart, G., Yuille, J., & Porter, S. (1999). The role of state-dependent memory in “red-outs”. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 22, 199-212.  

Tanaka, A., & Tokuno, Y. (2011). The effect of the color red on avoidance motivation. Social Behavior and Personality, 39(2), 287-288.  Weitz, B., & Wensley, R. (2002). Handbook of Marketing. London: SAGE. Wogalter, M., Kalsher, M., Frederick, L., Magurno, A., & Brewster, B. (1998). Hazard levelperceptions of warning components and configurations. International Journal of Cognitive Ergonomics, 2(1), 123-143. Cognitive Ergonomics, 2(1), 123-143.


[Total: 4   Average: 5/5]