Hot on the heels of the revelation that gentlemen do, indeed, prefer blondes comes the latest from the Cosmo Institute of Science (okay, it's actually the University of Rochester in this case): men are attracted to the color red! The men who participated in a study overwhelmingly found they were more attracted to a woman sporting a red shirt than a blue — although they denied that color had an impact on their choices. It's subliminal, you see, having to do with ovulation and baboons. It might also interest you to know that, according to the BBC, red "has traditionally been linked with romantic and sexual matters, from red hearts on Valentine's Day, to red-light districts." So, what have we learned lately? To get a man, we need to dye our hair blonde, don a red dress, go off the pill, and stop wearing deodorant. I'm feeling think-y and here's a study I want to see: how much of an impact do these studies have on our behavior?Don't get me wrong: these studies are fascinating, and I'm sure they illuminate a great deal about evolutionary psychology, development, and doubtless have implications for medicine, product development and other, sinister things I don't know about. From a layman's perspective, it's always interesting to know to what extent we are at the mercy of ancient forces, and can even provide a welcome measure of relief in cases. Certainly the science of attraction has resulted in any number of fascinating discussions — not least of them why Love Potion Number Nine is not on cable far more often. Of course, studies like this one are almost never purely based on biology; societal influences cannot be ignored. In the case of the color red, Dr Jo Setchell, an anthropologist from Durham University, tells the BBC that red — the color of blood — is "the easiest signal for an animal to produce externally, and had become a handy method of advertising fertility," such as in the case of monkeys' "bright red sexual swellings" during ovulation. Adds Andrew Elliott to the Telegraph, "It could be this very deep, biologically based automatic tendency to respond to red as an attraction cue given our evolutionary heritage." In the study, the hundred young subjects were asked to rate pictures of a woman on prettiness, kissability, and sexual attractiveness. In some images she was pictured in a blue top, in others red. They were also shown pictures of the same woman bordered by different colors. Not only did the men gravitate towards the red-clad dame, they said they'd be more inclined to spend money on her in a dating situation. (Women, natch, didn't favor one color over the other.) "The researchers noted that the color red did not alter how men rated the women in the photographs in terms of likeability, intelligence or kindness — only attractiveness," adds the Beeb. But what about the fact that red is associated with the devil? And that blue is the traditional color of the Virgin Mary? Is there a virgin-whore complex at work here? And how powerful is this unconscious attraction? Can it blind a man to a woman's flaws? Would he choose a red-clad date who was abusive to a waiter over a nice lady in turquoise? And what if red's not your color (and it's trying, ironically, for many blonds.) Would he pick you in red even if it washed you out more than the blue top? What if the red top was, like, a Christmas sweater with a big snowman on it, and the blue top was really cute? These are the follow-up studies I want to see. The basic point of all these studies, at the end of the day, is that people are attracted at some level to those who seem like fit mates — no news there. Yes, men are attracted to ovulation, we're drawn to height. We're animals. We reproduce. We know this. And yes, we like science that has something to do with poppy human interest. But do people listen to these studies — change their behavior or grooming based on these biological findings to increase their attraction? Seriously, I want to know. To the extent any body language study or even the most elementary makeup or clothing tutorial is founded on basic principles of "maximizing best points" I guess we are all on some level at the mercy of this kind of thinking. I wear blush like the next pale person — which I guess on some level is intended to mimic good reproductive health and (in the case of NARS) orgasm. Even in a non-romantic context, we're certainly encouraged to manipulate perceptions all the time — in a job interview, for instance — so I guess manipulating nature wouldn't be that much of a stretch. So, no judgments: can we get an informal poll on whether any of us have consciously used these studies that fill our inboxes on a slow news day, to alter our behavior? I'll admit, that pheromones thing made me feel a little better about being too cheap to get regular bikini waxes. After all, in a world in which we seem at the mercy of all sorts of external forces (global economy, anyone?) I can certainly see the appeal of trying to take matters into one's own hands so to speak. Are we glad or not to be essentially creatures of biology? To embrace or overcome? Gives 'back to nature' a whole new meaning. Men prefer women in red [Telegraph] Wearing red 'boosts attraction' Earlier: Fake Scientist Finds Real Humor In Crappy Cosmo Content