Would swapping to an all-red strip improve Sunderland’s game?

Adam Johnson

Adam Johnson

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SUNDERLAND AFC could give themselves a better chance of chasing top honours instead of battling relegation if they ditched their white strips and went for an all red kit, university boffins in the city claim.

Paolo Di Canio’s side only just securing Premier League survival this week, but according to academics in Sunderland taking to the field in an red shirt can give individuals and teams a physical and psychological advantage over their competitors.

Dr Daniel Farrelly, a senior lecturer in Psychology at the University of Sunderland

Dr Daniel Farrelly, a senior lecturer in Psychology at the University of Sunderland

The study, which has been published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, found that males who chose to wear red in a competitive task had higher testosterone levels than other males who chose to be blue.

Researchers cite cases such as the success of Manchester United, the Spanish football team and the dominance of Ferrari’s F1 team as proof that wearing the colour red gives teams the upper hand.

Dr Daniel Farrelly, senior lecturer in psychology at Sunderland University, explained: “It has been shown that in other primates such as some species of monkeys, the redness of skin relates to both the individual’s testosterone levels and also their dominance. It is possible that a similar innate effect may occur in humans.

“However it may also be the result of cultural links we make with the colour red, as it is often used in warning signs such as ‘stop’ signs and traffic lights.”

Researchers at the university recruited 73 men who were unaware of the study’s aims, and told them they would be performing a competitive task and their performances would be placed on a leaderboard.

Participants then choose either a red or blue symbol to represent them in the table and completed the competitive tasks.

They also answered questionnaires on whether personal reasons affected their choice, to explain a number of characteristics about the colour choice.

“Saliva samples were taken both at the start of the study, before they knew about the competitive task, and at the end, and these were then analysed for testosterone levels.

“This research shows that there is something special about the colour red in competition, and that it is associated with our underlying biological systems,” added Dr Farelly.

“The fact that individuals with high testosterone choose red for competition may explain why many sports stars wear red clothing, for example golfer Tiger Woods famously chooses to wear a red shirt on the last day of a major competition.

“This research suggests that this may, unconsciously, signal something about their competitive nature, and it may well be something that affects how their opponents respond.”

l Seeing red to win in life – Fresh, Page 72