How biased are we to certain colours?

Cowry Authors • 2 min read

The colour red has become a fundamental one in our evolutionary development. It is so important that studies have shown how much it affects our perceptions, with Olympic athletes who were wearing the colour red being judged to perform better than their opposition in blue.

This was proved by another study when they altered footage to swap the colours of jerseys of taekwondo fighters. It found that whatever fighter was in red, was the one who ended up scoring the most points.

Rather interestingly, this pattern of behaviour has been seen online as well. A study was conducted on data of an online gaming tournament, with over 1,300 unreal tournament matches being analysed. The finding was simple, the red teams won significantly more than the blue team, a whole 5% more.

However, the colour red isn’t exclusive in it having effects on our behaviour. Frank and Gilovich studied the NFL and NHL looking at referee’s judgements. They found that teams that wore the colour black were penalised more for fouls than those who wore a light coloured kit.

But how can all of this be applied in work? Well the colour red has been used in the past to increase our attention to detail, like remembering exact things or checking punctuation and grammar. Blue however increases creativity, leading to higher levels invention and imagination.

The colours we surround ourselves with are therefore more important than we may believe. If we are designing screens or environments, an appropriate colour choice can make all the difference.


Hill, R. A., & Barton, R. A. (2005). Psychology: red enhances human performance in contests. Nature, 435(7040), 293-293.

Hagemann, N., Strauss, B., & Leißing, J. (2008). When the referee sees red…. Psychological science, 19(8), 769-771.

Frank, M. G., & Gilovich, T. (1988). The dark side of self-and social perception: black uniforms and aggression in professional sports. Journal of personality and social psychology, 54(1), 74.

Ilie, A., Ioan, S., Zagrean, L., & Moldovan, M. (2008). Better to be red than blue in virtual competition. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 11(3), 375-377.

Mehta, R., & Zhu, R. J. (2009). Blue or red? Exploring the effect of color on cognitive task performances. Science, 323(5918),


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