The Color Psychology of Red

How does the color red make you feel? Red is often described as warm, vibrant, and intense. It is often seen as an exciting and even aggressive color, but it can also evoke feelings of love and comfort. Red is often used to grab attention, particularly in advertising and traffic signage.

As the fashion designer Valentino once suggested, "Red has guts .... deep, strong, dramatic. A geranium red. A Goya red ... to be used like gold for furnishing a house ... for clothes, it is strong, like black or white." Adding white to red also creates pink, which has its own color psychology.

red color psychology
Illustration by Cindy Chung, Verywell

Psychology Characteristics of Red

  • Red is a bright, warm color that evokes strong emotions.
  • Red is associated with love, warmth, and comfort.
  • Red is also considered an intense, or even angry, a color that creates feelings of excitement or intensity.
  • Consider how red is used in language: redneck, red-hot, red-handed, paint the town red, seeing red

How does the color red make you feel? Check out some of the responses that our readers have shared with us over the years.

While red has different symbolic meanings, individual reactions to the color red can vary widely. The following are some of the reactions to the color red that readers have shared.

Red Is Energetic and Exciting

In some of the responses we have received over the years, readers often suggest that red evokes strong feelings of energy and excitement.

"Red makes me feel energized and strong." — Calinda

"Happy, excited, strong, fun." — Inez

"I saw an episode of Law & Order: SVU last week where a lady (witness) had everything in her life red. Her apartment had red furnishings, kitchenware, art, curtains, etc... her clothes were all red, her makeup was red too. Even though the red was everywhere it somehow interested me. I'm not sure why, but it stirred feelings of excitement for me. The interesting thing is I have never had an interest in red before, but after seeing her intense red 'life' I now want to achieve the same. Maybe not as extreme, but certainly more red in my life makes a great change in my daily moods and energy levels." — Paul

"I have always appreciated the colour red to be a confident colour, and therefore wearing a red shirt shows confidence. For all those studying for finals, wear a red shirt to the exam. You'll ace it!" — Nurset

Red Is Powerful

Like black, red is also frequently described as a strong color that brings to mind feelings of strength and power. 

"Wearing red makes me feel confident." — Lotarot

"Confidence. Power. Self-acceptance." — Pat

"I do love red it makes me feel in charge of my life. I feel noticed by others and I receive confidence when it's around me or if I'm wearing it." — Conycbm

"My favourite colour as a child has always been red. I love red because it is vibrant, loud, and it presents to me strength." — Sandra

"Red is stabilizing. Solid and welcoming." — Sunny

Red Can Be Fun

But red is not just seen as an exciting or strong color — it also seems to have a fun and playful side. 

"I failed the Pepsi challenge back in the '80s but it is the color red that attracts me to Coke. My favorite beer has a red label. Red for me is a fun color that allows me to create an environment that might not really exist — just a plain compelling place that is full of excitement." — Mike

"The color red makes me feel happy, and that is my favorite color. I love Xmas-time and Valentine’s Day because there is so much red involved." — Maria

Red Is Passionate and Bold

Perhaps not surprisingly, red can also be seen as a romantic or passionate color. Like feelings of love, the color tends to provoke strong emotions. 

"Red is passion. Red means you are alive and face life full throttle with the pedal to the metal!" — Margaret

"I love red in clothes and cars. Then again I wouldn't decorate in red. Too bold for me." — Susan

A Word From Verywell

Like other colors, responses to red often depend upon past experiences and cultural influences. Some people report finding red fun and playful, while others feel it is too bold, exciting, or even sexy. Consider your own feelings for the color red and think about some of the influences or experiences that may have contributed to your reaction to this color.

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  1. Elliot AJ, Aarts H. Perception of the color red enhances the force and velocity of motor output. Emotion. 2011;11(2):445-9. doi:10.1037/a0022599