Does Red Lipstick Really Attract Men? an Evaluation in a Bar

Article excerpt

Abstract

Previous research has demonstrated that the color red increases the attractiveness of women. It has also been found that makeup increases perceived women' attractiveness for men and was associated with perceived greater interest for the opposite sex. We hypothesized that women wearing red lipstick would be more favorably approached by men. Female confederates wearing red, pink, brown and no lipstick were seated in bars on Wednesday and Saturday nights in a popular spot on the West Atlantic coast of France. Each experimental session lasted one hour. The number of men's solicitations and the lead time of the first solicitation were used as dependent variables. Results showed that the red lipstick condition was associated with a higher number of male solicitations and a shorter lead time between the arrival of the confederates in the bar and the first courtship solicitation of a male.

Keywords: red, lips, makeup, attractiveness

1. Introducation

The literature examining the role of cosmetics in social perception has found that, overall, makeup is associated with a positive evaluation of a woman (Graham & Jouhar, 1981; Cash, Dawson, Davis, Bowen, & Galumbeck, 1989; Mulhern, Fieldman, Hussey, Lévêque, & Pineau, 2003; Nash, Fieldman, Hussey, Lévêque, & Pineau, 2006; Richetin, Huguet, & Croiset, 2007). Men's positive perceptions of the physical and sexual attractiveness of women wearing cosmetics were also observed. Cox and Glick (1986) found that cosmetics were positively associated with femininity and sexiness whereas Workman and Johnson (1991) observed that women's cosmetics significantly enhanced the impression of attractiveness and femininity. Recent studies found that men's behavior was also affected by women's cosmetics. Guéguen (2008) observed that female confederates in bars were more frequently and more promptly approached by men when wearing cosmetics. Jacob, Guéguen, Boulbry, and Ardicioni (2009) found that male customers, but not female customers, in a restaurant gave more tips to waitresses wearing cosmetics.

These previous studies seem to show that women with facial makeup become more attractive for men. It could also be interesting to test if limiting the use of cosmetics to certain areas of the face exerts the same attractiveness effect. Mulhern, Fieldman, Hussey, Lévêque, and Pineau (2003) found that faces of women wearing full makeup were judged to be more attractive than the same faces without makeup, but they also found that eye makeup alone yielded higher levels of mean attractiveness ratings than foundation makeup alone. One aspect that has received little attention is lipstick and particularly the color of the lips.

Across cultures and time, it had been found that red lips are considered attractive in women (Schaffer, 2007) and it has been found that women wearing red clothes are perceived by men to be more attractive and sexually desirable (Elliot &Niesta, 2008). Further studies showed that men seek more social contact with or display more sexual interest in women wearing red clothes (Niesta-Kayser, Elliot, & Feltman, 2010; Guéguen, in press).

In a recent study, Stephen and McKeegan (2010) observed that participants increase lip redness contrast to enhance the femininity and attractiveness of women faces while they reduced redness contrast to enhance the masculinity of men's face. Thus, given the role of red in female attractiveness, it was hypothesized that red lipstick would be associated with an increase in male approach.

2. Method

2.1 Participants

The participants were young men judged to be approximately 20 to 28 years old. Given the fact that this experiment was an observational study, no demographic information was available. They were present in four bars where the experiment was carried out. The bars were situated in the center of a town of 70,000 inhabitants - a seaside resort on the West Atlantic coast of France. …