If you’re shopping on eBay and see a red background, you might want to take a few deep breaths and relax before you bid.
That’s because the color red has the effect of making eBay shoppers bid higher when they’re competing with other shoppers, according to a study published recently in the Journal of Consumer Research (h/t EurekaAlert). Interestingly, the color red had the near-opposite effect when negotiating with the seller, making shoppers actually lower their offers.
"Red background color induces aggression through a feeling of arousal and it increases aggression relative to blue or gray backgrounds,” according to the study. “This causes individuals to make higher bids in auctions but lower offers in negotiations.”
As the study notes, “red signals vigor and dominance and induces aggression,” which may be why it's been known to have physiological effects in arenas other than online shopping. Separate studies have found that wearing red makes both women and men more attractive to the oppostie sex. Red jerseys have also been linked with a boost in wins for sports teams. In addition, the color red can increase workers' attention to detail, The New York Times reports.
EBay sellers may try to put the study's findings to good use, but there are already a few tricks out there experienced online merchants use to maximize bids. Besides making sure an item’s description and photo are clean and accurate, listing it on Thursday afternoon insures potential buyers have two weekends to view it during a ten-day run, according to personal finance site GetRichSlowly.
Of course, shoppers these days can buy just about anything they want on eBay. Recently, listings on the site include an entire high school, a Tuscan village and a Chicken McNugget that resembles a zombie.