Date of Award

May 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Graphic Communications

Committee Member

Liam O'Hara

Committee Member

Nona Woolbright

Committee Member

Shu Chang

Committee Member

Robert Congdon


Color plays a vital role in visual perception and communication. Scientists have developed standards for measuring and comparing hues, marketers use color to develop brands and communicate with consumers, and psychologists study the feelings and states of mind associated with colors. In the color psychology field red emerges as a color that elicits high-energy or activating responses from humans and other animals with some degree of consistency. Researchers investigate red’s effects in a number of contexts, from appetite to perceived aggression and even sexual desire and intent. Findings on the topic of red and aggression in particular branch out into the world of sports, leading to discussion and investigation on how and why an athlete wearing red might be perceived differently than an athlete dressed in another color. This study explores the possibility that wearing a red shirt causes a soccer team to be perceived as particularly aggressive by the match referee through an examination and analysis of data from the FIFA men’s and women’s World Cups of the 2010s. A statistical analysis of available match data—primarily concerned with fouls per match and shirt color worn in each match—reveals that among the sampled teams, no statistically significant difference exists between the fouls called per match on teams in red and teams in other colors. These results and other cross-cultural studies on color suggest that meanings and associations for different hues are often unique to certain cultures and even individual experiences.



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