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

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.

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Fig. 1
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Notes

  1. 1.

    In addition a Sobel test of mediation was performed and revealed the following: Z = 1.84, p = .07.

  2. 2.

    In addition a Sobel test of mediation was performed and revealed the following: Z = 2.05, p = .04.

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported by a TransCoop Grant from the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation awarded to Andrew J. Elliot, Reinhard Pekrun, and Markus A. Maier, and by a Grant awarded to Andrew J. Elliot and Reinhard Pekrun from the University of Munich within the third funding line of the German Excellence Initiative.

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Maier, M.A., Elliot, A.J., Lee, B. et al. The influence of red on impression formation in a job application context. Motiv Emot 37, 389–401 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-012-9326-1

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Keywords

  • Impression formation
  • Achievement
  • Social cognition
  • Work place
  • Color