The Third Leader: Colour coding

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Some of you, I know, are a touch cynical about those pieces of anthropological research that reveal with a flourish something you knew pretty well already, such as, for example, beautiful, charming, intelligent, witty people with wealthy parents and full heads of hair having some sort of advantage in life.

Some of you, I know, are a touch cynical about those pieces of anthropological research that reveal with a flourish something you knew pretty well already, such as, for example, beautiful, charming, intelligent, witty people with wealthy parents and full heads of hair having some sort of advantage in life.

The latest, though, is more promising. They are telling us that wearing red enhances human performance in contests. It is, they say, to do with red being the sexually selected, testosterone-dependent signal of dominance expressed in animal markings and the colour we get when angry and aroused. We say: of course!

The finding is based on sporting contests, but wider application beckons. What colour, for example, is woad? Exactly. What colour, in contrast, was the colour of the British Empire and Army? And what did we do to most of the rest of the world? Exactly. What colour tie were all those big beasts of New Labour flaunting so threateningly just recently? Exactly. How could the Tories and the Lib Dems possibly compete? Exactly (although Charles Kennedy's timely child production clearly helped to counter that wimpy yellow).

The researchers do enter a caveat: the contestants have to be relatively equally matched, something Southampton supporters knew already. And Chelsea ones. Respect for private grief prevents me revealing whether Arsenal or Manchester United are in their change strip on Saturday.

Equal matching must also explain the fox's long losing run; but I'm not sure where we stand with the baboon, as both the male and the female have red bottoms. And finally: who's going to tell the bull?

Comments