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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/385

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THE PSYCHOLOGY OF RED.

that he was looking at a red object. Many years ago Laycock referred to the case of a lady who could not hear to look at anything red, and Elliston also had a lady patient to whom red was very obnoxious, and who, when put into a room with red curtains, drank seven quarts of fluid a day. I am not aware that any such hyperæsthesia exists in the case of other colors. It is also noteworthy that the morbid affection in which color is seen when it does not exist is most usually a condition in which red is seen (erythropsia), yellow being the color most frequently seen after red (a condition called xanthopsia); the other colors are very rarely seen, and Hilbert, in his monograph on the pathology of the color sense, considers that this is due to the fact that red and yellow make the most intense effect on the sensorium, which thus becomes liable not only to direct but to reflected irritation, in the absence of any external color stimulus. There are other facts which show that of all colors red is that which acts as the most powerful stimulus on the organism. Münsterberg, in some interesting experiments which he made to illustrate the motor power of visual impressions as measured by their arresting action on the eye-muscles, found that red and yellow have considerably more motor power in stimulating the eye than the other colors. It may be added also that, as Quantz has found, we overestimate the magnitude of colors of the less refrangible part of the spectrum and underestimate the others.

After puberty blue seems still to maintain its position, but red has now come more to the front, while yellow has definitely receded; although so favorite a color in classic antiquity, it is rarely the preferred color among ourselves. J. Cohn in Germany found that among a dozen students it was never in any degree of saturation the preferred color, while at Cornell Major found that all the subjects investigated considered yellow and orange either unpleasant or among the least pleasant colors.

While blue seems to be the color most usually preferred by men, red is more commonly preferred by women, who also show a more marked predilection for its complementary green. Whether the feminine love of red shows a fine judgment we could better decide if we knew among what classes of the population red lovers and blue lovers respectively predominate; it may be noted, however, that the necessities of dress give the most ordinary woman an acquaintance with the elementary æsthetics of color which the average man has no occasion to acquire. In any case it might have been anticipated that, even though the typically 'cold' color should appeal most strongly to men, the most emotional of colors should appeal most strongly to women.