Red Is Not a Proxy Signal for Female Genitalia in Humans

Johns, Sarah E. and Hargrave, Lucy A. and Newton-Fisher, Nicholas E. (2012) Red Is Not a Proxy Signal for Female Genitalia in Humans. PLoS ONE , 7 (4). e34669. ISSN doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034669. (Full text available)

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Abstract

Red is a colour that induces physiological and psychological effects in humans, affecting competitive and sporting success, signalling and enhancing male social dominance. The colour is also associated with increased sexual attractiveness, such that women associated with red objects or contexts are regarded as more desirable. It has been proposed that human males have a biological predisposition towards the colour red such that it is ‘sexually salient’. This hypothesis argues that women use the colour red to announce impending ovulation and sexual proceptivity, with this functioning as a proxy signal for genital colour, and that men show increased attraction in consequence. In the first test of this hypothesis, we show that contrary to the hypothesis, heterosexual men did not prefer redder female genitalia and, by extension, that red is not a proxy signal for genital colour. We found a relative preference for pinker genital images with redder genitalia rated significantly less sexually attractive. This effect was independent of raters' prior sexual experience and variation in female genital morphology. Our results refute the hypothesis that men's attraction to red is linked to an implied relationship to genital colour and women's signalling of fertility and sexual proceptivity.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > Biological Anthropology
Depositing User: Sarah Johns
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2012 10:12
Last Modified: 27 May 2014 09:16
Resource URI: http://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/29942 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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