You may be tempted to ‘peacock’ by wearing a pink shirt; or sneak on some pink sneakers; accidently paint a pink accent wall or hang up some pink-hued modern art. Just for a moment, disregard those corny GQ articles ‘why men should wear pink‘ and consider the potential phycological and physiological effects that pink has on men.
Humans are influenced by the colors around us in ways we can’t control. Whether it’s an innate response, one influenced by culture; or a complex intercalation of both, is unmeasurable. In 1979 a classic psychology paper by Alexander Schauss titled: Tranquilizing effect of color reduces aggressive behaviour and potential violence. The study appeared to demonstrate that by showing men a pink hue for an extended period of time, the men appeared to lose strength in a test after looking at the pink square (compared to men shown a blue color). After more, similar, studies by Schauss which appeared to show the same results; the hue quickly became a mild pop-culture sensation in the 80s.
The official color name is known as Baker-Miller pink, however it is more widely known as ‘drunk tank pink’; a much more interesting name. Baker and Miller were the first to use the color in a real life setting, by painting the walls of a naval correctional facility in the color. Baker and Miller noted that the color appeared to have a calming effect on inmates.
By the 80s, in America, drunk tank pink had become a minor pop culture sensation, with prisons, dentists, doctors, teachers etc. painting rooms in the color. If you’re a child of the 80s, think back to your childhood; remember any oddly pink rooms?
The color is discussed in the (quite frankly, average) book, Drunk Tank Pink – The Subconscious Forces that Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave – by psychology professor Adam Alter.
In 2018, English soccer team, Norwich City, painted the away team locker rooms drunk tank pink – at their home ground Carrow Road. Who knows the exact measurable effects this had upon a team of professional athletes, however the anecdotal evidence below makes for amusing reading.
The conceit was that the color had some kind of cultural or innate effect on testosterone among men. However, the crux of scientific study is that experiments must be repeatable – this ensures that the results were not anomalistic, or being influenced by external factors. And this is where, the drunk tank pink theory falls off a science-shaped cliff. One recent study ran a similar experiment and found that pink had no measurable physiological of psychological effects.
Another recent critical empirical study tested the assumption that painting inmates cells drunk tank pink would reduce aggression. The results found no significant reduction in aggression level in inmates within the pink rooms. In conclusion, the study concedes that there may be a small impact on reducing aggression level; however, the study also noted in the conclusion that the pink color may even increase aggression – by insulting the inmates manhood.
The Final Word
It is a fun concept, but no, you don’t really need to avoid particular shades of pink to prevent nefarious phycological effects if you are a man. Using the peer-reviewed scientific studies available, and the original study of the effects of drunk tank pink, there is scant, repeatable, evidence that it has long-lasting effects on testosterone levels or behaviour. Any effects present, are likely to be barely measurable.
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