The present research examined whether perception of the color red influences basic motor functioning. Prior research on color and motor functioning has been guided by ill-defined theoretical statements, and has been plagued by methodological problems. Drawing on theoretical and empirical work on the threat-behavior link in human and nonhuman animals, we proposed and tested the prediction that perceiving red enhances the force and velocity of motor output. Experiment 1 demonstrated that red, relative to gray (matched to red on lightness), facilitates pinchgrip force. Experiment 2 demonstrated that red, relative to gray (matched to red on lightness) and blue (matched to red on lightness and chroma) facilitates handgrip force and the velocity of that force. These findings clearly establish a link between red and basic motor action, illustrate the importance of rigorous experimental methods when testing color effects, and highlight the need to attend to the functional, as well as aesthetic, value of color.
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