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The Influence of the Amygdala and Color on Judgments of Attractiveness

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Abstract

The present experiment explored whether the amygdala underlies the reported influence of the color red on judgments of attractiveness, referred to as the "red-effect" by Elliot et al. 5. We modulated amygdalar activity by showing participants either emotionally arousing or neutral images using the International Affective Picture System 2 (IAPS) and then used attractiveness ratings to measure their reactions to a female target photo. The female image was placed either on a red or gray background in order to explore the relationship between color and physiological arousal. Trends in attractiveness ratings, though not statistically significant, indicate that the level of emotional arousal produced by the IAPS images influenced the effect of the color red on attractiveness judgments. These preliminary results suggest that the amygdala was initially activated by the emotionally arousing images and maintained neural activation due to the exposure of the red background. We hypothesize that the amygdala is the common factor underlying the relationship between the physiological arousal caused by the images and the subsequent effect of the color red on attractiveness ratings.

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