No Effect of Red on Personality Trait Self-Ratings : Testing for Effects of Font Color

Faculty/Professorship: Personality Psychology and Psychological Assessment  
Author(s): Wolf, Daniel  ; Schütz, Astrid  
Title of the Journal: Collabra: Psychology
ISSN: 2474-7394
Corporate Body: Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science
Publisher Information: Oakland, CA, USA : University of California Press
Year of publication: 2019
Volume: 5
Issue: 1
Pages: 13
Language(s): English
DOI: 10.1525/collabra.224
Unlike most other mammals, humans are trichromats and have the ability to perceive the color red. An explanation for the evolution of humans’ trichromatic color vision is that it offers humans the advantage to detect ripe fruit. Apart from this explanation, psychological theories have proposed that color, especially the color red, conveys information that affects psychological functioning, but results have been mixed. Whereas studies have extensively tested effects of red on performance measures, it is unclear whether this effect generalizes to self-ratings, one of the most frequently used methods in psychological research. In line with theory and empirical evidence, we argue that exposure to red can lead to distorted responses in self-ratings on the basis of the same underlying mechanism that affects results on performance measures. We varied the font color (hue values) of self-ratings in two online studies. In a first exploratory study, we found an effect of font color on personality trait self-ratings (N = 145). We attempted to rigorously replicate this finding in a larger sample (N = 1,007) but did not detect any effect. The findings underline the importance of rigorous research on effects of color on psychological functioning and call into question the proposition that red has ubiquitous effects.
Keywords: color, red, self-rating, psychological functioning
Peer Reviewed: Ja
International Distribution: Ja
Open Access Journal: Ja
Type: Article
Release Date: 10. January 2023
Project: Open-Access-Publikationsfonds 2012-2020