Redness Enhances Attractiveness, or Why You Have the Hots for Bill Clinton


It used to be that a red nose was just an unappealing indicator of a hard life lived through liquor but apparently, some women like that. Which, honestly, would explain about half of the marriages in my family.

According to a new study in Evolutionary Psychology, a man’s rosy glow evidently signals perceived aggression, dominance, and attractiveness to women. Sorry, gingers, I bet you thought this meant that women might finally start dating you but alas, we’re talking strictly in the face — everyone still finds your demon hair terrifying, I’m the only one who loves you, don’t you forget it, call me!, etc.

In the study, the researchers assembled groups of women and asked them to use a computer to change the color of male faces to make them as attractive, dominant, or agressive as possible. The results are worth noting, if you’re interested in the Wonders of Science:

We find that facial skin redness enhances attractiveness, supporting the findings of a forced choice study by Re et al. (2011), but very high levels of redness increase perceived aggression to the detriment of attractiveness. These differences may reflect a trade-off between the benefits to females of choosing a healthy, dominant male and the costs of associating with an aggressive partner.

Turns out, ladies like a nice flush to their gentlemen, one that indicates that they’re assertive but not super scary. It’s a fine line, guys.

Of course, the study participants were all white (both the red men and the swooning ladies), so this is pretty much just about why white ladies are kind of into white guys who are a little angry. Perhaps this helps explain how all those terrifying, disgusting old white dudes keep getting elected to congress? When women generally vote more frequently than dudes, perhaps we’re voting with our racist, sexist lizard brains? I don’t know but this might be worth exploring. Or not. But on the real, read your voter guides and don’t be confused by those sexxxy popped vessels!

Redness Enhances Perceived Aggression, Dominance and Attractiveness in Men’s Faces [Evolutionary Psychology]

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