A man daubed in colours prays during Lathmar Holi celebrations at Nandgaon village
Red increases the force and speed to any human reaction REUTERS/K. K. Arora

A new study by the researchers at the University of Rochester has found out that when humans see the color red, their reactions become both faster and forceful.

The research team included Andrew Elliot, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester and a lead researcher in the field of color psychology and Henk Aarts, professor of psychology at Utrecht University, in the Netherlands.

The researchers said the study can be applied to sports and other physical activities where a temporary burst of energy is needed but the color boost is more likely a short-lived one.

Red enhances our physical reactions because it is seen as a danger cue, said Elliot. Humans flush when they are angry or preparing for attack. People are acutely aware of such reddening in others and its implications.

Threat also evokes worry, task distraction, and self-preoccupation, all of which have been shown to tax mental resources, said Aarts

The study calculated the response of students in two experiments. In the first, 30 students from fourth to 10th grades pinched and held open a metal clasp. Before the task, they read aloud their participant number written in either red or gray crayon.

In the second experiment, 46 undergraduate students squeezed a hand grip with their dominant hand as hard as possible when they read the word squeeze on a computer monitor. The word appeared on red, blue, and gray backgrounds.

In both cases, the red color increased the force applied than those with blue or gray.

The study targeted exclusively on isometric or non-directional physical behavior, allowing researchers to measure the energy response of participants, said a posting on the university website.