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Does Red Lipstick Really Attract Men? An Evaluation in a Bar

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Abstract

Previous research has demonstrated that the color red increases the attractiveness of women. It has also been found that makeup increases perceived women' attractiveness for men and was associated with perceived greater interest for the opposite sex. We hypothesized that women wearing red lipstick would be more favorably approached by men. Female confederates wearing red, pink, brown and no lipstick were seated in bars on Wednesday and Saturday nights in a popular spot on the West Atlantic coast of France. Each experimental session lasted one hour. The number of men's solicitations and the lead time of the first solicitation were used as dependent variables. Results showed that the red lipstick condition was associated with a higher number of male solicitations and a shorter lead time between the arrival of the confederates in the bar and the first courtship solicitation of a male.

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... Colors not only shape individuals' aesthetic feelings; they also have pronounced psychological implications. For example, research has shown that subtle red color cues can inhibit cognitive performance [4], increase dominance in competitive interactions [5], and modulate people's mating behavior [6]. In many situations red is associated with danger and perceptions of threat [7,8]. ...
... Only rather recently has applied research on the generalizability of the effect of the color red started to gain momentum. Field studies conducted in real world settings outside the laboratory demonstrated that women sitting at a bar were more frequently approached by men when they used red lipstick [6], patrons gave more tips to waitresses wearing red dresses [13] or lipstick [14], consumers ate less snack food from a red plate [15], and drivers experienced more aggression in traffic jams when seeing red cars [16]. All these studies concordantly demonstrated that inconspicuous color cues also have a pronounced influence on people's behavior in a variety of applied settings with less experimental control. ...
... However, color effects are largely dependent on the prevalent situational characteristics [9]. As mentioned above, for example, in mating situations red can have the opposite effect and activate approach behavior: red increases men's solicitations of women sitting at a bar [6] and increased courtship behavior in response to personal ads [23]. Some studies also suggest similar effects for online behaviors. ...
Article
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In many situations red is associated with hazard and danger. As a consequence, it was expected that task-irrelevant color cues in online environments would affect risk-taking behaviors. This assumption was tested in two web-based experiments. The first study (N = 383) demonstrated that in risky choice dilemmas respondents preferred the less risky option when the displayed university logo was in red (versus gray); but only when both choice alternatives were at least moderately risky. The second study (N = 144) replicated these results with a behavioral outcome: Respondents showed more cautious behavior in a web-based game when the focal stimuli were colored red (versus blue). Together, these findings demonstrate that variations in the color design of a computerized environment affect risk taking: Red color leads to more conservative choices and behaviors.
... In the case of the former, for example, research showed that red has been associated with higher perception of female attractiveness among male perceivers (e.g., Elliot & Niesta, 2008;Guéguen & Jacob, 2014;Niesta Kayser, Elliot, & Feltman, 2010;Pazda et al., 2012;Pazda, Elliot, & Greitemeyer, 2014). For instance, men are more likely to contact a woman wearing red on a dating website (Guéguen & Jacob, 2013) and approach a woman wearing red lipstick at a bar (Guéguen, 2012b). What explains this red-attractiveness effect for men is their perception of a woman's sexual receptivity (Guéguen, 2012b;Pazda, Elliot, & Greitemeyer, 2014). ...
... For instance, men are more likely to contact a woman wearing red on a dating website (Guéguen & Jacob, 2013) and approach a woman wearing red lipstick at a bar (Guéguen, 2012b). What explains this red-attractiveness effect for men is their perception of a woman's sexual receptivity (Guéguen, 2012b;Pazda, Elliot, & Greitemeyer, 2014). ...
Article
Previous research has shown that during her monthly peak fertile window, a woman competes with other women for a suitable mate. Drawing upon research on ovulation and socially constructed meanings of the color red, we examine how a woman’s fertility status and red clothing worn by a target woman change perceptions of the target, as well as behaviors toward the target. Following previous research on the ovulatory status and color red effects, we rely on both hormonal and self-reported fertility data. Across six studies, our research fails to provide support for the prediction that an ovulating woman is less likely to trust another woman wearing red compared with a nonovulating woman.
... On the other hand, in the context of sexual allurement and sexual attraction, red can be a positive stimulus which motivates our approach behavior (e.g., Elliot & Niesta, 2008;Guéguen, 2008Guéguen, , 2010Guéguen, , 2012aGuéguen, , 2012bGuéguen & Jacob, 2012a, 2012b, 2014Lin, 2014;Niesta-Kayser, Elliot, & Feltman, 2010;Roberts, Owen, & Havlicek, 2010). These studies reported that men felt more attraction to women who wore red or even had something red (e.g., a laptop computer) because of the association between red and sexual attraction and sexual arousal to women. ...
... On the other hand, in the context of sexual allurement and sexual attraction, red can be a positive stimulus which motivates our approach behavior (e.g., Elliot & Niesta, 2008;Guéguen, 2008Guéguen, , 2010Guéguen, , 2012aGuéguen, , 2012bGuéguen & Jacob, 2012a, 2012b, 2014Lin, 2014;Niesta-Kayser, Elliot, & Feltman, 2010;Roberts, Owen, & Havlicek, 2010). These studies reported that men felt more attraction to women who wore red or even had something red (e.g., a laptop computer) because of the association between red and sexual attraction and sexual arousal to women. ...
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It is assumed that color has an influence on human cognition and behavior. The red effect has been taken up by a large body of research and the purpose of the study was to test the influence of red as a background color on the appraisal of pictures. Participants were randomly divided into two conditions: red or white. They appraised the levels of valence and arousal of four pictures with background colors of red or white. Results demonstrated that the levels of arousal were significantly higher when negative pictures with background color red were presented than when they were presented with background color white. This study’s results are consistent with previous studies that have demonstrated a context-dependent manner of color effects on human cognition and behavior.
... Smile design with strategic consideration of smile components is an important step in planning to achieve an attractive smile [4,6]. Lipstick is a popular makeup tool that helps women enhance their smile's appearance [8][9][10]. Hence, lip characteristics, including lip thickness and lipstick colors, should be considered during tooth shade selection to achieve an attractive smile. ...
Article
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This study determined the effect of lip thickness, lipstick color, and tooth shade on the smile attractiveness perceptions of dentists, laypersons, dental students, and other faculty students. A set of 27 smile photographs was prepared with different lip thicknesses (Tk, thick; M, medium; and Tn, thin), lipstick shade (R, red; P , pink; and O, orange), and tooth shades (0M1, 0M3, and A1). A total of 212 Thai participants in four rater groups (dentists, laypersons, dental students, and other faculty students) rated smile attractiveness using a visual analog scale (VAS). Statistical analyses were performed using the Kruskal-Wallis test and pairwise analysis at a 0.05% level of significance. Tk or M lip thickness was associated with more smile attractiveness than Th lip thickness. The R lipstick is more attractive than the P and O lipsticks. The 0M1 tooth shade appeared to be the most attractive for laypersons and other faculty students, whereas tooth shades (0M1, 0M3, or A1) did not influence the smile attractiveness perception of dentists and dental students. The smile attractiveness perception was influenced by the lip appearance and tooth shade for each rater group, which are essential for an attractive smile design.
... Although the area of vermilion makes up only a small fraction of the total facial area, the redness of the vermilion profoundly affects the impressions of others. A redder vermilion lightens the perceived complexion [1], and a red vermilion increases the facial attractiveness of female Caucasian faces [2,3]. The redness of the vermilion is thus an important factor affecting interpersonal impressions and face-to-face communication. ...
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Lip redness is unique to humans and creates an important facial impression, but this redness decreases with age. Here, using histological and immunohistological staining of human upper lip vermilion from donors of different ages, we investigated blood vessels in the upper lip dermis and age-dependent histological changes. We found that both total vessel area in the dermis and vessel number in the upper dermis decreased with aging. Moreover, vessel number in the upper dermis correlated positively with development of rete ridges, which flattened with age, despite no significant change in the thickness of the stratified squamous epithelium. These findings suggest that age-related reductions in lip redness result from a decrease of blood vessels, which in turn leads to a flattening of the epithelium caused by the loss of rete ridges. This is the first study to histologically demonstrate age-related reductions in blood vessels in the lip. Our results provide an opportunity for enhancing blood flow/vascularization to improve the aesthetic appearance of the lips in the elderly.
... This knowledge may be used not only in perspective of mate choice but also in social contexts. For instance, (Guéguen, 2012), showed that women's ornamentation of lips by red lipstick may influence a number of interpersonal contacts with men and decrease the amount of time needed for first contact with opposite sex individuals. Moreover, Guéguen and Jacob (2012) revealed that using red lipstick by female waitresses increased a number and amount of tips given by male (but not female) customers. ...
Article
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Human lips are one of the most sexually dimorphic facial features. Although lip morphology is considered particularly important for female facial attractiveness no systematic empirical study has been conducted in this respect. This study aimed to investigate a relationship between female Caucasian facial attractiveness and their lip morphology. Two series of morphologically average composite portraits with digitally increased and decreased lip width and height measurements were assessed by adult men and women. Results were analysed using repeated measures ANOVA. When compared to the average lip shape both a decrease and an increase in lip width were associated with lower female facial attractiveness. A systematic increase in lip height from the lowest values to the highest, was associated with an increase in attractiveness scores. Attractiveness assessments of men and women did not differ significantly. The results show that perception of lip attractiveness may be intersexually congruent and that a variation in lip morphology may significantly affect female facial attractiveness.
... Elliot & Maier, 2013;Hesslinger, Goldbach, & Carbon, 2015;Lynn, Giebelhausen, Garcia, Li, & Patumanon, 2013;Seibt, 2015; see also Francis, 2013). Red cues also promote approach-oriented behaviors towards opposite-sex targets (Guéguen, 2012b(Guéguen, , 2012cGuéguen & Jacob, 2013, 2014Meier, D'Agostino, Elliot, Maier, & Wilkowski, 2012;Niesta Kayser, Elliot, & Feltman, 2010;cf. Lynn et al., 2013). ...
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The red-attraction effect refers to the finding that the color red enhances attractiveness ratings of targets, and is most robustly observed when males rate females. Three previously unexplored aspects of color-attraction effects were tested in a single experiment with a large sample size (N = 778). The effect of exposure to a color and the impact of pairing a color with a target were disentangled using a novel design. Moreover, we tested the proposition that color exerts its effects outside of awareness by examining the association of conscious awareness of color-target pairing with the red-attraction effect. Both prior exposure to red and pairing of red with a target influenced attractiveness ratings, but not always in the direction of increased attractiveness. Results also varied as a function of target and participant sex. However, when conscious awareness of target-color pairing was higher, results converged with the typically-observed red-attraction effect among males rating females.
... 21,[22][23][24], several studies found a contradictory effect in which red causes risk-averse situations [e.g. 25,26,27] leading to positive effects (e.g. men attracted by women's red lipstick). ...
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Color is present in every aspect of human life, and color is driving our decisions. In the digital computer warning realm, in which a warning message is a communication mechanism, color represents an important design element, which aims at preventing the hazard and reducing negative outcomes from the user’s action. Interestingly, we are lacking the understanding of how color appeal influences behavioral intentions in culturally distinct countries when it comes to paying more attention to warning messages. We conducted a cross-cultural investigation by running an online experiment, followed by a survey of 258 participants from the United States and India. Supported by the color-in-context theory, we found that culture is an important dimension in the specific warning message context in which color appeal is a salient antecedent to behavioral intentions in culturally distinct countries. We derive several theoretical contributions and practitioners’ insights.
... Similarly, redness in women's facial lips enhanced the apparent femininity and attractiveness of female faces to male participants (Stephen & McKeegan, 2010). In a more applied setting, Guéguen (2012c) examined the effect of lipstick in two field studies. Women who wore red lipstick were approached by more men in a bar compared to the brown lipstick or no lipstick condition, whereas red and pink lipstick were not significantly different. ...
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Color-in-context theory is the first theoretical framework for understanding color effects in human mate preferences, arguing that red clothing enhances attractiveness ratings. Here we present three empirical studies failing to support this prediction. We aimed to extend the current literature by differentiating color effects by temporal context (short-term vs. long-term mating). Experiment 1 involved Dutch participants rating a woman in red, white, and black on (sexual) attractiveness. Experiment 2 replicated the first experiment with an American sample. In the final experiment, we aimed to replicate a study that did find evidence of a red effect, using a substantially larger sample size. The results from each of the three studies (totaling N = 830 men) fail to support the red effect. We discuss the implications of our results and avenues for future research on red effects and attractiveness.
... Red lipstick is linked to heightened sexual allure. 54 The choice of such a bold shade suggests that, like a burlesque performer, Cassils is deliberately drawing attention to beauty work, making the labour of appearing "feminine" visible. 55 The lips amplify the message that appearances are fashioned rather than readymade, one also signalled by the built body, the surgical scar across the abdomen, the piercings, and the boyshort hair. ...
... Furthermore, red clothes may predict women's attitudes toward sexual behavior [17] and red lipstick may increase the amount of tips waitresses receive [18]. Researchers agree that red is linked to love and sex in a relational context, and as a result it could induce a different psychological effect than in an achievement context [19,20]. Thus, whether experience can modify color effects in other contexts is also a question to be answered by future research. ...
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Recent research has shown that the color red influences psychological functioning. Red is hypothesized to be linked to aggression and danger in evolution, and these links are enhanced by culture-specific uses of red. Thus, color meanings are thought to be grounded in biologically based proclivities and learned associations. However, to date, there has been no direct evidence for the influence of experience on the red effect. This study focused on whether experience could change the psychological effects of the color red. In the context of the Chinese stock market, contrary to the meaning generally associated with red as negative and green as positive, red represents a rise in stock price and green stands for a decrease. An experiment using a 2×2 between subjects factorial design demonstrated that red (compared with green) impaired Chinese college students' performance on an IQ test (in accordance with the red effect), but the opposite effect was found among stockbrokers. These results provide direct evidence of learned color meanings, in support of the general model of color effect.
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Research has shown that with some nonhuman primates, red is associated with greater sexual attractiveness of females. Five female confederates in their early 20s posed as hitchhikers wearing T-shirts of different colors (black, white, red, blue, green, or yellow). It was found that the women wearing red solicited a higher response in the number of male drivers who stopped to offer a ride. No color effect was found when considering the behavior of female drivers. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Col Res Appl, 2012
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The purpose of this research was to investigate the effect of cosmetics use on impression formation. The study was a single factor experiment with three levels of cosmetics (heavy, moderate, none). Eighty-five undergraduate females viewed one of three colored photographs of a professional model wearing either heavy, moderate, or no cosmetics and indicated impressions of her attractiveness, femininity, personal temperament, personality, and morality by checking 7-point Likert-type scales. Analysis of variance revealed no significant difference on impressions of personal temperament or personality traits based on cosmetics use. Cosmetics use did significantly affect impressions of attractiveness, femininity, and morality.
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The study explored whether 4 Caucasian women would be evaluated differently on 4 social measures depending on whether they were presented with or without makeup. Participants—152 men and 171 women—were split into 2 groups and were presented with the women's facial photographs either with or without cosmetics. Women presented wearing cosmetics were perceived as healthier and more confident than when presented without. Participants also awarded women wearing makeup with a greater earning potential and with more prestigious jobs than the same women without cosmetics. The results suggest that women can successfully employ cosmetics to manipulate how they are assessed, which may be advantageous in social situations where women may be judged on their appearance, such as job interviews.
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Physical appearance is an integral component of self-presentation in all social situations, including that of applying for a job. This project investigated the relationship between employment evaluations of women and one aspect of their appearance under the individual's control—the use of varying degrees of cosmetics. Cosmetics use was found to be positively correlated with perceived attractiveness, femininity, and sexiness. Based on resume evaluations, however, cosmetics use had a negative effect on the expected performance of female applicants for a gender-typed (secretary) position, but no effect on the expected performance of female applicants for a nongender-typed (accountant) position. Makeup thus appears to strengthen sex role stereotypes associated with traditionally feminine jobs.
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It had been found that cosmetics do improve female facial attractiveness when judgments were made based on photographs. However, these studies were conducted only on laboratory and field studies are scarce in the literature and none of them have tested the effect of customers’ behavior. An experiment was carried out in restaurant in order to verify if waitresses’ makeup is associated with an increase in patrons’ tipping behavior. Female waitresses with and without makeup were instructed to act in the same way than usual with their patrons. Results showed that the makeup condition was associated with a significant increase in tipping behavior of the male customers.
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The study reported here forms part of an investigation of what psychological benefits, if any, exist for the user of cosmetics. A central theme in the work on physical attractiveness is that if one is physically attractive one is assumed to have a more ideal personality than someone of lesser attractiveness. If cosmetics really do make people look more physically attractive, then with the use of cosmetics others should perceive people more favourably in terms of personality characteristics. This study, therefore, attempted to find out whether cosmetics really do improve appearance ratings (by males and females) and in result improve ratings of personality. Colour photographs of four female stimulus persons of average physical attractiveness in each of four modes (neither make-up nor hair care; make-up but no hair care; no make-up but hair care; both make-up and hair care) were evaluated by a judge panel of sixteen males and sixteen females. The amount, extent and style of use of facial make-up and hair care was no more than would be in everyday use. Each judge saw one stimulus person in each mode but no stimulus person in more than one mode in a counter-balanced design, using 7-point rating scales of six appearance and fourteen personality dimensions. Two hypotheses were confirmed: It is not certain from this study whether persons using cosmetics are rated more favourably than without cosmetics because they are seen as more physically attractive and in result acquire more favourable ratings for attributes which are associated with being physically attractive or whether there is a direct effect on perceived personality, independent of enhancement of physical attractiveness, or both. Either explanation is possible, though there is some support for the idea that the use of cosmetics (or at least hair care) may have a direct effect on perceived personality. If this were so, it would suggest the existence of a separate positive cosmetic stereotype which carries its own concept ‘what has been cared for is good’. This stereotype would form an extension of the ‘what is beautiful is good’ stereotype for physical attractiveness. Otherwise, and as a result of the work reported here, the latter might become ‘what has been made beautiful is good’, when cosmetics are used.
Article
This study sought to investigate whether cosmetics do improve female facial attractiveness, and to determine whether the contribution of different cosmetic products are separable, or whether they function synergistically to enhance female beauty. Ten volunteers were made up by a beautician under five cosmetics conditions: (i) no make-up; (ii) foundation only; (iii) eye make-up only; (iv) lip make-up only; and (v) full facial make-up. Male and female participants were asked to view the 10 sets of five photographs, and rank each set from most attractive to least attractive. As predicted, faces with full make-up were judged more attractive than the same faces with no make-up. Sex differences within the results were also apparent. Women judged eye make-up as contributing most to the attractiveness. Men rated eye make-up and foundation as having a significant impact on the attractiveness of a full facial makeover. Surprisingly, lipstick did not appear to contribute to attractiveness independently.
Waitresses' Facial Cosmetics and Tipping: A Field Experiment
  • C Jacob
  • N Guéguen
  • G Boulbry
  • R Ardicioni
Jacob C., Guéguen. N., Boulbry G., & Ardicioni R. (2009). Waitresses' Facial Cosmetics and Tipping: A Field Experiment. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 29, 188-190.