Women judge other women wearing red to be more sexually receptive and belittle them to their partners as a means of "male guarding", scientists have said.
Researchers from the University of Rochester, Trnava University, and the Slovak Academy of Sciences, were building on previous research that found men perceive women who wear red to be more sexually receptive than those wearing other colours.
Published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, scientists arranged three experiments to find out what women thought of other women wearing red.
In the first, they asked participants to compare an image of a woman wearing red in comparison to one wearing white. They were asked about their perception of the woman's sexual receptivity and participants responded by moving a bar along a scale from "No, not at all" to "Yes, definitely".
Findings showed the woman in red was rated as more sexually receptive than the one in white.
Examining whether women would derogate a woman in red, the participants were asked to rate pictures on topics of fidelity and financial resources - "I would guess that this women cheats on men" and "I would guess that this woman has no money".
Lead researcher Adam Pazda said: "Derogation [involves] speaking poorly of another person to make them seem inferior, undesirable, or unlikeable, while making oneself seem superior and more likable by contrast. Mate-guarding is the act of protecting one's own romantic partner from romantic or sexual encounters with others."
Participants were more likely to belittle the woman in red's sexual fidelity, findings showed, but did not derogate their financial resources.
"These results suggest that some colour signals are interpreted similarly across sex, albeit with associated reactions that are sex-specific," the authors conclude.