Jude Stewart writes for our sister publication, Print magazine. One area that she focuses on is color and the stories that she writes makes color look a lot more unbalanced and disingenuous than most would imagine.
Recently, she wrote about a psychiatric study in 1979 that found the unassuming color pink could actually make hardened criminals become subdued simply by adding it to their cell:
“[Drunk Tank Pink] stems from a 1979 psychiatric study in which 150 strapping young men were asked to stare at a card colored either blue or pink, then take a strength test. Those who gazed on blue apparently amplified their own strength by doing so, while the pink-starers seemed weakened just by gazing at pink. Pink’s supposed tranquilizing effect rapidly gained currency among psychologists of the day. Two corrections officers, Gene Baker and Ron Miller, daubed holding cells in their respective facilities a bubble-gum shade, reported an immediate subduing effect, and boom: Baker-Miller Pink, aka Drunk Tank Pink, became the prison industry’s latest brainwave. Enthusiasm for Drunk Tank Pink colored the efforts of charities (donations increased when charity workers donned the color) and football coaches (painting the competition’s locker room pink gave the enemy a distinct disadvantage) through the 1990s,” said Stewart.
Drunk Tank Pink was written by NYU Professor Adam Alter who added some interesting observations to Stewart’s story, “‘I’m color-blind, so I’ve always been attuned to the question of how different people perceive colors and how those colors go on to shape their interactions with the world,” Alter continued. “We know, for example, that people who wear red fare better on dating websites, athletes who wear black are called for more penalties, and teachers are more critical and find more errors in written work when they use red pens.'”
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