Brief Communications Arising

Nature 437, E10 (27 October 2005) | doi:10.1038/nature04306; Published online 26 October 2005

Sporting contests: Seeing red? Putting sportswear in context

Candy Rowe1, Julie M. Harris2 & S. Craig Roberts3

Arising from: R. A. Hill & R. A. Barton Nature 435, 293 (200510.1038/435293a); R. A. Hill & R. A. Barton reply

There is a Corrigendum (11 May 2006) associated with this document.

The shirt colour worn by sportsmen can affect the behaviour of the competitors1, 2, but Hill and Barton3 show that it may also influence the outcome of contests. By analysing the results of men's combat sports from the Athens 2004 Olympics, they found that more matches were won by fighters wearing red outfits than by those wearing blue; they suggest that red might confer success because it is a sign of dominance in many animal species and could signal aggression in human contests. Here we use another data set from the 2004 Olympics to show that similar winning biases occur in contests in which neither contestant wears red, indicating that a different mechanism may be responsible for these effects.

  1. School of Biology & Psychology, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH, UK
  2. School of Psychology, University of St Andrews, St Mary's College, St Andrews KY16 9JP, UK
  3. Evolutionary Psychology & Behavioural Ecology Group, School of Biological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 7ZB, UK

Correspondence to: Candy Rowe1 Email:


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