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Abstract

Among certain non-human primates, the red-colored genitalia of females are a sexual ornament and attract males. The preference for red clothes among women is at times explained as being a parallel. We used here a within-individual design to investigate the signaling role of the color red with a sample of Slovak participants. As expected, women preferred red clothing both in real-life and would-be situations more than men. The preference for red (but not for other colors) in mating game scenarios was only significant for women, but not for men. A preference for the color red was shown in particular for clothes on the upper parts of the participants' bodies, irrespective of gender. Women who were actually involved in a romantic sexual relationship had a preference for red in would-be situations more than single women, although the menstrual cycle, the total number of lifetime sexual partners, and self-perceived attractiveness were not associated with the preference for the color red. Our results support the sexual signaling hypothesis which suggests that women use the color red to attract potential mates in a similar way as non-human primates.