Sexy Colour

By | January 24, 2008

AlexSuze, Celebes MacaquesColour plays a huge part in ours lives, not least in our appreciation of the opposite sex. Some of this has to be learned behaviour, the psychological element of how colour influences our attraction to others being accumulated over the course of our lives.

Social and cultural elements can’t be ignored in how they shape our reactions to different colours. The classic example of course being the western world’s use of red to indicate danger and the eastern (specifically Chinese) culture regarding it as the colour of good fortune.

Strange then how we in the west also see red as the colour of passion. Perhaps not. It’s not uncommon in female primates for their genitals to become red when they are most receptive to the attention of the males of their respective species. See the inset picture of Celebes macaques from Radu Xplorator)

Not all primates (or mammals as a whole) see in colour. Despite the fact that the gene which gives rise to what we regard as normal polychromatic vision being present in prosimians (Michael H. Rowe, News in Physiological Sciences, Vol. 17, No. 3, 93-98, June 2002) only certain species actually posses full colour visions. Rather ironically in spider monkeys it’s the females that tend to see in Technicolor.

There is variation too within species, including ourselves. Our perception of colour being subtly different from each other, and that’s not to mention individuals with colour blindness.

So I have two questions, should anyone feel able to answer them:

Does anyone, personally (psychologically or physiologically) or from a cultural point of view, feel their relationships have been changed by the way they see or react to colour?

Are the colours regarded as “sexy” or alluring different around the globe?