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. 2009 Feb 27;323(5918):1226-9.
doi: 10.1126/science.1169144. Epub 2009 Feb 5.

Blue or Red? Exploring the Effect of Color on Cognitive Task Performances

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Blue or Red? Exploring the Effect of Color on Cognitive Task Performances

Ravi Mehta et al. Science. .
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Abstract

Existing research reports inconsistent findings with regard to the effect of color on cognitive task performances. Some research suggests that blue or green leads to better performances than red; other studies record the opposite. Current work reconciles this discrepancy. We demonstrate that red (versus blue) color induces primarily an avoidance (versus approach) motivation (study 1, n = 69) and that red enhances performance on a detail-oriented task, whereas blue enhances performance on a creative task (studies 2 and 3, n = 208 and 118). Further, we replicate these results in the domains of product design (study 4, n = 42) and persuasive message evaluation (study 5, n = 161) and show that these effects occur outside of individuals' consciousness (study 6, n = 68). We also provide process evidence suggesting that the activation of alternative motivations mediates the effect of color on cognitive task performances.

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