Thursday, May 19, 2005

Bad news for Blue States

NYT: Research Finds That Red Is for Winners
"Across a range of sports, we find that wearing red is consistently associated with a higher probability of winning," Dr. Russell Hill and Dr. Robert Barton, researchers in evolutionary anthropology at the University of Durham, wrote in a paper that appears today in the journal Nature.

The research began a year ago with a hunch based on observations in the animal kingdom, where red coloration is often associated with male dominance, Dr. Barton said in an interview. Zebra finches fitted with red leg bands tend to become dominant, while those given blue bands are more submissive. In humans, anger reddens the face, which may send signals of fierceness.
(The next time I get a flaming red sunburn, I'm going to flaunt it. I'm a winner!)
This does not mean that a bad team can reverse its fortunes by wearing red, Dr. Barton said. The study applies only to closely matched competitors. "If you're hopeless," he said, "then wearing red isn't going to make you start winning."

In London, a representative of William Hill, a leading betting company, called the study "absolute rubbish." "There is no such thing as equally matched opponents in any human activity," and there are too many individual factors to pronounce a trait like color decisive, the representative, Graham Sharpe, said in an e-mail message.

Dr. Barton acknowledged that the work might not hold up under further analysis. "All scientific results are a bit provisional, of course," he said.
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