If you're a vertebrate female, chances are that you're attracted to the color red, and that includes humans. It's one of the oddest facts in all biology - no matter what the species, women seem to love red.
That's what a bunch of University of Rochester researchers discovered last year when they took the already well-documented nonhuman attraction to red and tried to apply it to human females. First, the setup:
"In many nonhuman species of vertebrates, females are attracted to red on male conspecifics. Red is also a signal of male status in many nonhuman vertebrate species, and females show a mating preference for high-status males. These red-attraction and red-status links have been found even when red is displayed on males artificially."
So, nonhuman females like to see red on their potential mates. Such a straightforward reaction isn't necessarily surprising for simpler species, but what about human females? Here's where it gets interesting:
"In the present research, we document parallels between human and nonhuman females' response to male red. Specifically, in a series of 7 experiments we demonstrate that women perceive men to be more attractive and sexually desirable when seen on a red background and in red clothing, and we additionally show that status perceptions are responsible for this red effect.
And what's causing this red-lust? Well, it really is just romantic in nature, and it apparently only works for females with regards to men. Considering how universal this is, we might be dealing with some deep evolutionary truth right here:
The influence of red appears to be specific to women's romantic attraction to men: Red did not influence men's perceptions of other men, nor did it influence women's perceptions of men's overall likability, agreeableness, or extraversion. Participants showed no awareness that the research focused on the influence of color. These findings indicate that color not only has aesthetic value but can carry meaning and impact psychological functioning in subtle, important, and provocative ways."
Honestly, I'm just shocked Santa Claus isn't more of a sex symbol. You'd think he's wearing more than enough red to get some notice.