The colour signifies power in men and sexual availability in women, says a study that measured responses according to gender
Attention all heterosexual men: If you want to become a chick magnet, try wearing red.
A new study shows that women are sexually attracted to men in red, far more than any other colour.
"They not only view them as more attractive but they want to have sex with them more,” said the lead researcher, Andrew Elliot, a psychology professor at the University of Rochester.
So what’s the allure? At some deep instinctual level, the colour red conveys a sense of power.
"Red is a status indicator and women like guys who are high in status … they are more likely to earn lots of money,” he said. In other words, women perceive that men in red are potentially good providers for their offspring.
Dr. Elliot said there are many examples of red being equated to status and power. “They roll out the red carpet when an important dignitary arrives,” he noted.
Findings from the study seem to apply to women in general and aren’t restricted to just one country or culture. The research involved a total of 288 females in the United States, Britain, Germany and China.
To measure the red effect, the researchers gauged women’s responses to pictures of men in different colour settings. In one experiment, the shirt of the man in the photo was digitally altered so it was either red or another colour. In another test, the frame or the background colour was changed.
In each of these situations, women found men more appealing when they were shown wearing red or surrounded by red, according to the results published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. The same man was rated a full point higher on a nine-point attractiveness scale when wearing a red shirt, compared with other colours.
Two years ago, Dr. Elliot published a similar study that focused on the colour preferences of men. That study found that men are attracted to the lady in red. In the minds of men, however, red signified that a woman is sexually available – not necessarily that she is powerful.
So, even though both sexes are drawn to red, it seems to be for different reasons.
Dr. Elliot believes red’s appeal has biological roots. He noted that red is used as a sexual signal for many animal species. In the case of human females, it seems to be working on a subconscious level.
"Women aren’t aware of the fact that they are more attracted to guys in red, but they are nevertheless showing that in their ratings,” he said. “Clearly this is an effect that is under the radar.”
But before you get too excited, gentlemen, Dr. Elliot cautions that the colour red can’t work miracles. “What we are talking about is just bumping up a man’s attractiveness … and that could increase his likelihood of attracting females.” If a guy isn’t the least bit attractive, then donning a red T-shirt or flashing a red “power” tie won’t bring the supermodels running.
Rich get richer
A federal program meant to boost the fitness level of young Canadians through a system of tax credits primarily benefits the children of affluent families, a new study shows.
In 2007, Ottawa introduced the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit which allows a household to write off up to $ 500 for the cost of registering a child, aged 16 or younger, in an organized physical-activity program such as a sport or dance. Depending on the net taxable income of the family, the credit could amount to a maximum annual tax saving of $75 per child.
Researchers at the University of Alberta commissioned a survey in March of 2009 to determine who has taken advantage of the ongoing tax incentive. They polled 2,135 Canadians, 1,004 of whom had children between two and 18 years of age.
"We found families in low-income situations were much less likely to claim the fitness tax credit than middle- to high-income families,” said the lead researcher John Spence, associate dean of research for the university’s faculty of physical education and recreation.
"In the highest income quartile, about 55 per cent of parents claimed the credit in 2007, whereas only 28 per cent in the lowest income quartile claimed the credit.”
Why the difference? In many cases, lower income families “did not have money to put their child into some sort of program” so they failed to meet the basic criteria to qualify for a tax break, said Dr. Spence, whose study was published in the journal BMC Public Health.
"Tax credits, by their very nature, are middle- to high-income policy instruments,” he added. “If people are not making enough income to even make a tax claim then they are not going to benefit from the break that is being offered.”
Cancer care lagging
The Canadian health-care system is slow to provide patients with the latest advances in cancer drugs, suggests a recent study that looked at the international use of prescription medications.
The study, commissioned by the British Secretary of State for Health, compared 14 countries for their usage of 14 categories of prescription drugs to determine whether the British government is adequately meeting the health needs of its citizens.
Among the details in the report, Canada was ranked 13th out of 14 in terms of the use of new cancer drugs launched within the past five years.
At the other end of the spectrum, France, Austria and the United States took the top rankings, while New Zealand had the poorest showing.
Patient advocates in Canada have seized on the report, saying it provides evidence that cancer care is not keeping pace with other major countries. In some cases, cancer patients who have failed to respond to available treatments, try to acquire newer drugs, often at their own expense.
"For many, that reality means trying to pay for a treatment that is unaffordable, which creates an impossible choice: your health or financial solvency for your family,” Dr. Kong Khoo, vice-chair of the Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada, said in a prepared statement.

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