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Journal o f Sport & Exercise Psychology, 2015, 37, 207-212

Human Kinetics £Q\I

http://dx.doi .org/10.1123/jsep.2014-0274 © 2015 Human Kinetics, Inc.

RESEARCH NOTE

The Effect of Uniform Color on Judging Athletes’ Aggressiveness, Fairness, and Chance of Winning Bjoern Krenn University of Vienna In the current study we questioned the impact of uniform color in boxing, taekwondo and wrestling. On 18 photos showing two athletes competing, the hue of each uniform was modified to blue, green or red. For each photo, six color conditions were generated (blue-red, blue-green, green-red and vice versa). In three experi­ ments these 108 photos were randomly presented. Participants (N = 210) had to select the athlete that seemed to be more aggressive, fairer or more likely to win the fight. Results revealed that athletes wearing red in boxing and wrestling were judged more aggressive and more likely to win than athletes wearing blue or green uniforms. In addition, athletes wearing green were judged fairer in boxing and wrestling than athletes wearing red. In taekwondo we did not find any significant impact of uniform color. Results suggest that uniform color in combat sports carries specific meanings that affect others’ judgments. Keywords: red, green, blue, decision, combat sports Color represents an almost omnipresent feature of human perception in our daily life. Thus, it seems remarkable that research has fallen short of analyzing its impact on psychological functioning (Elliot & Maier, 2007, 2012, 2014). Only in the last decade has a growing body of research more comprehensively questioned its role in factors such as attractiveness (e.g., Elliot & Pazda, 2012; Roberts, Owen, & Havlicek, 2010) or motivation (e.g., Elliot, Maier, Binser, Friedman, & Pekrun, 2009; Meier, D’Agostino, Elliot, Maier, & Wilkowski, 2012). However, several studies have investigated the impact of uniform color in sport: Hill and Barton in their seminal study (2005) revealed an advantage for athletes wearing red uniforms in combat sports by analyzing the results of the Olympic Games in 2004. They argued that the color red signifies dominance and aggression, which causes beneficial effects in such sports (see also Barton & Hill, 2005; Dijkstra & Preenen, 2008). Subsequent studies corroborated this assumption to a great extent, also documenting a red uniform advantage beyond combat sports (Attrill, Gresty, Hill, & Barton, 2008; Greenlees, Eynon, &Thelwell, 2013; Greenlees, Leyland, Thelwell, & Filby, 2008; Hie, loan, Zagrean, & Moldovan, 2008; Little & Hill, 2007). It was found that athletes felt more dominant when imagining themselves wearing red uniforms (Feltman & Elliot, 2011) and showed higher

Bjoern Krenn is with the Centre for Sport Science and Uni­ versity Sports Department of Sports Sciences, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria. Address author correspondence to Bjoern Krenn at [email protected]

heart rates and values in a strength test before a combat contest (Dreiskaemper, Strauss, Hagemann, & Busch, 2013). Even the judgments of others were found to be affected: Athletes wearing red were judged more domi­ nant by their opponents (Feltman & Elliot, 2011) and received more points in taekwondo by referees, whereas in soccer tackles from behind were judged harsher for players wearing red (Hagemann, Strauss, & LeiBing, 2008; Krenn, 2014). So far, the impact of red uniforms in sport has mostly been analyzed in comparison with blue uniforms. This has resulted from the conducting of several studies in combat sports, in which two athletes are randomly assigned to wear either a red or blue uniform by the rules of the game (cf. Hill & Barton, 2005). However, even in soccer, research substantiated the association between red and dominance/aggression (Attrill et al., 2008; Green­ lees et al., 2013; Krenn, 2014). These studies indicated augmented discrepancies for red versus blue, whereas the effect of red did not constantly turn out significant in comparison with other colors. It seemed ambiguous whether the effect of red manifests irrespective of color comparison or whether it would be specifically magnified by contrasting with blue. Hence, this study was aimed to go beyond the sole red-blue comparison and consider additional color dualisms. Whereas the impact of red on psychological func­ tioning has attracted considerable research, less attention has been paid to green. The complementary color to red was particularly used as chromatic control in investigating red effects (Elliot & Maier, 2012; Fehrman & Fehrman, 2004; Gil & Le Bigot, 2014; Lichtenfeld, Elliot, Maier, &

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Pekrun, 2012). To our knowledge, so far only two studies considered green uniforms in sport: Krenn (2014) found a weak tendency to judge tackles in soccer committed by a player in green uniforms less harshly than those commit­ ted by a player wearing red. Most notably, Greenlees et al. (2013) showed that soccer players facing a goalkeeper wearing a red uniform scored on fewer penalty kicks in soccer than those facing a goalkeeper wearing green. However, outside of sport, research emphasized a posi­ tive valence of green standing for calmness, pleasantness and growth (Akers et al., 2012; Clarke & Costall, 2008; Elliot & Maier, 2012; Fehrman & Fehrman, 2004; Gil & Le Bigot, 2014; Lichtenfeld et al., 2012; Moller, Elliot, & Maier, 2009). Green is often used to present products and objects as healthy and natural, in contrast to some­ thing being unnatural, fake or false (cf. Mazar & Zhong, 2010). A link to success was even found in comparison with red, which seems in line with the frequent use of red and green for symbolizing loss/failure/bad versus gain/ success/good (Moller et al., 2009; Pravossoudovitch, Cury, Young, & Elliot, 2014). Nonetheless, research so far has neglected to compare red and green in combat sports (which is probably due to the restriction to red/blue uniforms in some combat sports according to the rules of the game). However, the comparison of green and red/ blue uniforms provides an additional scientific benefit: By considering green, we could exceed the dualism of blue versus red and better understand whether the effect of red will be affected by specific comparison with blue. A potential advantage of red uniforms in combat sports (Hagemann et al., 2008; Hill & Barton, 2005) would also compromise fairness. Thus, the analysis of contrasting green with red and blue seems appropriate for finding a color dualism that does not bestow any advantage. This study was aimed to examine the impact of blue, red but also green uniforms in combat sports. Despite a series of empirical studies investigating the impact of uniform color in sport, less attention has been paid to the theoretical argumentation of how colors may affect psychological functioning. Elliot and Maier (2007, 2012, 2014) assumed that colors carry specific meanings which are caused by learned associations and/ or biologically based proclivities. The mere perception of a color evokes evaluative processes, which in turn produces motivated behavior (e.g., approach or avoidance behavior) without conscious intention or awareness. But they also emphasized that these color associations and their effects are contextual: The meaning and impact of one color may be different with respect to situational and contextual factors (Dijkstra & Preenen, 2008; Maier, Barchfeld, Elliot, & Pekrun, 2009; Moller et a l, 2009; Watkins, Debruine, Feinberg, & Jones, 2013). Therefore, analyzing the associations of colors and paying specific regard to the contextual factors within these colors are perceived should substantially enhance our understanding of the role of color in psychological functioning. As a consequence, this study was aimed at investigating such color associations and their impact on others’ judgments in boxing, taekwondo and wrestling.

The contrary meanings and associations of green and red should cause a differential impact for both colors in combat sports: Firstly, following the red-dominance link, athletes wearing red uniforms should be judged more aggressive in combat sports than athletes wearing blue and green uniforms. Secondly, with respect to the green­ pleasantness and green-growth associations we expected green to be judged more natural and authentic. Regarding competitive sports and specifically combat sports we assumed that these associations would oppose behaving in a fake/false manner or even fighting unfairly. Thus, we hypothesized that athletes wearing green uniforms would be judged fairer than athletes wearing blue or red. Thirdly, although a link between green and success was shown, we assumed that the association between red and dominance/aggression should appear stronger and/ or be more meaningful in combat sports. With regard to the importance of being dominant/aggressive to win a fight in combat sports, we expected athletes wearing red uniforms to be judged more likely to win than athletes wearing green or blue uniforms.

Method Three experiments were conducted to analyze the impact of blue, green and red uniforms on judging aggressive­ ness, fairness and chance of winning in combat sports. Photos of contests of boxing, taekwondo and wrestling at the Olympic Games in 2012 were selected. The uniform colors of both athletes were changed to blue, green and red. Participants were asked to select the athlete seem­ ing to be more aggressive (Experiment 1), seeming to be fairer (Experiment 2), or seeming to win the fight (Experiment 3).

Participants A total of 210 sports students participated in this study, receiving minimal course credit. For each experiment, different participants were selected. Experiment 1: n = 66 (35 male; M = 23.11 ± 3.65 years), Experiment 2: n = 66 (41 male; M = 23.35 ± 4.49 years), Experiment 3: n = 62 (39 male; M = 21.90 ± 4.01 years). Partici­ pants stated to have any kind of color-deficiency were excluded from data analysis (n = 16). All individuals were Caucasian. Twenty-six participants had experience in boxing, eight in taekwondo and five in wrestling. Their experience did not prove significant concerning their judgments, nor in interaction with uniform color. In all experiments, participants provided informed consent and institutional approval was obtained.

Material In total, 18 photos from the official homepage of the Olympic Games in London 2012 were selected (olympic. org/london-2012-summer-olympics).1 We chose only photos in which two athletes were fighting each other, and in which there was no obvious indication concerning

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which of the fighters was dominating, winning or physi­ cally stronger: At first, 54 photos were collected following these guidelines and showing at least the upper part of the athletes’ bodies. In a second step, four researchers rated the balance of both competitors on each image regarding their displayed body size and their displayed actions (e.g., excluding images where an opponent is hitting and the other is covering). These selection criteria were assessed to find highly neutral scenes, where any substantiated prediction of the contest’s outcome was not possible. The images with the highest means for boxing {n = 6; 4 men/2 women),2taekwondo (« = 6; 3 men/3 women) and wrestling (n = 6; 4 men/2 women) were selected. One athlete wore a blue uniform, the other a red uniform in boxing and wrestling. In taekwondo athletes’ uniforms were white, but their protectors (chest and helmet) were chromatic (red versus blue). Each uniform’s hue (protec­ tor’s hue in taekwondo) was changed to blue, green and red using Adobe Photoshop CS 6. Color manipulation was based on the HSV (Hue Saturation Value) model: Saturation and lightness were not modified. A green/ blue hue was generated by adding 120/240 degrees to the hue of red (or vice versa). In total, six different color conditions for each photo were generated: red vs. blue, green vs. blue, red vs. green and vice versa. To enhance the homogeneity of each uniform color and the color conversions throughout all photos, only the converted images were used; the original images were not applied in the experiments (e.g., 1. original red uniform was converted to green; 2. green to blue; 3. blue again to red).

Design and Procedure The 108 photos (1700 x 950 pixels) were randomly pre­ sented on a 23-in. touch screen for 1500 ms. Participants had to select the athlete seeming to be more aggressive (Experiment 1), seeming to be fairer (Experiment 2) and seeming to win the fight (Experiment 3) by touching on the athlete on the screen. After the participant’s reac­ tion, or after reaction time had elapsed, the next photo was presented. The intertrial interval was configured at 500 ms. In all three experiments, the same 108 photos (18 photos x 6 color conditions) were displayed. Thus, participants saw each photo six times, but in different color conditions. The high pressure of the limited reac­ tion time (1500 ms) was intended to impede rational and conscious judgments as well as to keep previous decisions freshly in mind. At the end of the task a supervisor asked participants about their impressions of the experiment. Participants’ comments after ending the task (even in conducted prestudies) showed that they felt some images were repeated and uniform color changed but they also stated that they were not able to recall previous decisions within this short period in time. The mean values of participants for picking an athlete wearing a blue, green or red uniform were analyzed with regard to the three experimental conditions (aggressive­ ness, fairness, chance of winning), gender and each sport using repeated-measures ANOVA.

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Results At first, repeated-measures ANOVA was conducted for each sport considering the experimental condition and gender as between-subjects factors. For boxing, F(4, 370) = 6.59, p < .01, r|2 = .07, and wrestling, F(4, 370) = 5.15, p < .01. T|2 = .05, a significant interaction between uniform color and test condition was found. In addition, the sole effect of color turned out meaningful in boxing, F(2, 370) = 3.04, p = .04, t |2 = .02, but not in wrestling, F(2, 370) = 1.73, p = .18. In taekwondo, ANOVA did not reveal a significant interaction between color and experimental condition, F(4, 370) = 1.08, p = .36, nor any sole effect of color, F(2,370) = .72, p = .49. The impact of gender did not prove significant regarding boxing, F(2,370) = 1.32,p = .27; taekwondo, F(2,370) = .56,p = .57; and wrestling, F(2, 370) = .39,p = .68—nor in interaction with test condition for boxing, F(4, 370) = 1.75, p = .14; taekwondo, F(4, 370) = 1.21, p = .31; or wrestling, F(4, 370) =.65, p = .63 so that gender was omitted from further consideration. Figure 1 shows the differential means for selecting blue, green and red in boxing, taekwondo and wrestling. In a second step, repeated-measures ANOVA for each experiment were conducted to compare the means for picking blue, green and red within each test condi­ tion. In boxing significant differences were revealed in the condition of aggressiveness, F(2, 130) = 9.3, p < .01, ri2 = .13; fairness, F(2, 130) = 5.3, p < .01, r)2 = .08; and chance of winning, F(2, 122) = 4.8, p < .01, r|2 = .07. Post hoc tests (Scheffe) clarified that by pick­ ing the athlete seeming to be more aggressive (AG) or more likely to win the fight (WI), athletes wearing red uniforms were selected more often than athletes wearing green (pAG = .04; p m = .03) or blue (pAG < .01; p W\ = .03). Any difference between blue and green uniforms did not prove significant (pAG= .24; pWi = -99). However, by picking the athlete that seemed to be fairer, a differ­ ing result was revealed: Green uniforms were selected more often than red uniforms ip = .01). Differences between green-blue (p = .37) and blue-red (p = .19) did not prove significant. In wrestling, significant differences for picking blue, green and red were again found for aggressiveness, F(2, 130) = 5.35, p < .01, n 2 = -08; fairness, F(2, 130) = 3.4,p = .04, r|2 = .05; and chance of winning, F(2,122) = 4.5, p = .01, r|2= .07. Post hoc tests showed that athletes wearing red were selected more often than athletes wearing green for the condition of aggressiveness (p = .01) and chance of winning (p = .02). Differences between blue-red (pAG = .06, pwi = -13) and blue-green (pAG = .78, />Wi = -66) did not prove significant. Within the test condition of fairness, green uniforms were selected more often than red ones (p = .04). Differences between blue-red (p = .19) and blue-green (p = .78) did not reveal significance. In taekwondo, no significant impact of color was found: aggressiveness, F(2, 130) = 1.6, p = .22; fairness, F(2, 130) = .34, p = .71; and chance of winning, F(2, 122)= 1.8,/? = .17.

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Figure 1 — Means of picking blue, green and red uniforms in boxing, taekwondo and wrestling within the test conditions of aggressiveness, fairness and chance of winning. Confidence intervals (95%) are indicated by vertical lines.

D iscussion Elliot and Maier (2012, 2014) argued that colors carry specific meanings that may affect psychological func­ tioning. This study was aimed at analyzing such color associations in combat sports by questioning the impact of uniform color on judging athletes’ aggressiveness, fairness and chance of winning. The results corrobo­ rated an assumed association of red with aggression/ dominance, which is in line with past research (Feltman & Elliot, 2011; Hagemann et al., 2008; Hill & Barton, 2005; Watkins et al., 2013). It was found that athletes wearing red in boxing and wrestling were judged more aggressive than athletes wearing blue or green uniforms. In addition, participants selected fighters wearing red uniforms more often than those in green when selecting the athlete seeming to be winning a fight. Considering the importance of aggression and dominance in combat sports, we assume that their link with red caused these higher rates of winning in athletes wearing red. Therefore, red in combat sports signifies aggression and dominance, which induces an advantage for those wearing it due to beneficial ratings from themselves, their opponents as well as referees (Dijkstra & Preenen, 2008; Dreiskaemper et ah, 2013; Feltman & Elliot, 2011; Hagemann et al., 2008). However, the current study clarifies that the advantage of red in combat sports manifests not only in comparison with blue exclusively, but also in comparison with green (cf. Greenlees et al., 2013). Most notably, this seems true for wrestling: By picking the athlete seeming to win the fight, the differences between red-green turned out significant, whereas the blue-red differences did not reach significance. Nonetheless, this tendency is still in line with past results showing higher means for red than blue uniforms (Attrill et ah, 2008; Hill & Barton, 2005).

In taekwondo we did not find any impact of uniform color. This seems surprising considering past results showed a higher victory rate and beneficial refereeing judgments for athletes wearing red (Hagemann et al., 2008; Hill & Barton, 2005). Comparing the photos of boxing, taekwondo and wrestling clarified that in tae­ kwondo, athletes’ uniforms were largely white: only their protectors (chest & helmet) were chromatic. In boxing (excluding a white belt) and wrestling, the whole uniform was chromatic. Hence, a larger percentage of body surface was chromatic in these sports, which may have increased the impact of uniform color. In addition, the white uniforms in taekwondo may have hindered any impact of the chromatic protectors (Krenn, 2014). Further research is needed to cast some light on this aspect and deepen the understanding of such combined chromaticachromatic color impacts in sports. Concerning the color green it was shown that ath­ letes wearing green uniforms were judged to be fairer than athletes wearing red uniforms. The associations of the color green with calmness, growth and naturalness seem to represent fairness with respect to the contextual factors of combat sports (Elliot & Maier, 2012, 2014). Thus, we perceive that green should oppose something unnatural, false or fake (Akers et al., 2012; Fehrman & Fehrman, 2004; Gil & Le Bigot, 2014; Lichtenfeld et al., 2012; Mazar & Zhong, 2010). Because of this association with fairness, athletes wearing green in combat sports could benefit from milder and more positive refereeing decisions. The association could affect refereeing judg­ ments by inducing an expectation for athletes wearing green uniforms to be fairer and less likely to break any rule. In this regard, the suggested effect of green may also have increased the advantage of red uniforms in the selection of athletes seeming to be more aggressive

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or more likely to win the fight (Greenlees et al., 2013). Nonetheless, these results have to be generalized care­ fully: The chosen experimental procedure made the con­ tinuous repetition of images and the color manipulation obvious. This was also widely reported by participants at the end of the task. However, the randomization of all images and the time pressure within the task restricted any impact of participants’ previous decisions: The limited reaction time hindered consideration of their previous selections, as was stated by participants. Nev­ ertheless, we have to at least bear in mind the possibility that thoughts on the experimental procedure within the task may have increased error variance in our experi­ ments. Further research has to overcome this limitation and investigate the potential advantage of green uniforms in experimental studies more comprehensively. In addi­ tion, results were revealed by selecting participants with limited experience in combat sports. Thus, prospective research has to analyze not only the impact of green uniform color on athletes themselves (cf. Dreiskaemper et al., 2013; Hill & Barton, 2005) but especially on ref­ erees’ or judges’ decisions (cf. Hagemann et al., 2008; Krenn, 2014). With regard to the reported differences between red and blue uniforms (Dreiskaemper et al., 2013; Hagemann et al., 2008; Hill & Barton, 2005) as well as our results suggesting a different impact of red versus green uni­ forms, research is strongly needed to better understand the role of uniform color and its underlying effects in sport. In doing so, research may contribute to achieving fairness in sport and equal opportunities for each athlete to win, irrespective of their uniform color.

Notes 1. We would like to thank the International Olympic Com­ mittee for permission to use the photos in our research project. 2. Any differences between images showing male athletes and female athletes did not reveal any significance throughout the analyses.

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The effect of uniform color on judging athletes' aggressiveness, fairness, and chance of winning.

In the current study we questioned the impact of uniform color in boxing, taekwondo and wrestling. On 18 photos showing two athletes competing, the hu...
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