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The Color of Money

August 22, 2012

The color red may be associated with more aggressive bidding in online auctions.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Rose-colored decisions…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

People will bid more aggressively in online auctions if an item’s description has a red background rather than a blue one. This according to social scientists Rajesh Bagchi of Virginia Tech and Amar Cheema of the University of Virginia. Bagchi says they analyzed bidding activity for Nintendo Wii products being sold through the online auction site eBay.

RAJESH BAGCHI (Virginia Tech):

And we found that when red backgrounds are used, the bid jumps are much higher than they were when blue backgrounds are used. And in any product you may have 20, 30, 40 jumps.

HIRSHON:
Bagchi says some studies have shown that the color red is associated with aggressive behavior in both animal and humans.

BAGCHI:

In auctions, greater aggression will lead to a buyer trying to outbid other competitors, and so therefore somebody who is very aggressive will try to pay the highest price possible and will try to win the product very quickly.

HIRSHON:

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Does the color red make people more aggressive in online auctions? (Jupiter Images)