Original Paper

Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 389-401

The influence of red on impression formation in a job application context

  • Markus A. MaierAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Munich Email author 
  • , Andrew J. ElliotAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester
  • , Borah LeeAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Munich
  • , Stephanie LichtenfeldAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Munich
  • , Petra BarchfeldAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Munich
  • , Reinhard PekrunAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Munich

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Abstract

Recent research has shown that the color red can influence psychological functioning. In the present research we tested the hypothesis that red influences impression formation related to another person’s abilities. We conducted three experiments examining the influence of red on the evaluation of male target persons. In Experiment 1, participants viewing red, relative to green, on the shirt of a person presented on a photograph perceived him to be less intelligent. This effect was strongest in a job application context compared to other contexts. In Experiment 2, focusing solely on the job application context, participants viewing red, relative to blue, on an applicants’ tie perceived him to have less earning and leadership potential. In Experiment 3, participants viewing red, relative to green, on a job applicants’ tie rated him as less likely to be hired, and perceptions of ability and leadership potential mediated this effect. Both the conceptual and applied implications of these findings are discussed.

Keywords

Impression formation Achievement Social cognition Work place Color