Red Objects Strangely Feel Cooler to the Touch Than Blue Ones
A study reverses our usual expectations about sensation and colors, with a twist
7-3-2014 | Ben Fogelson
It’s as basic as water faucet handles: red means hot and blue means cold. That simple fact just got more complicated, according to a surprising study in the July 3 issue of Scientific Reports which shows that blue objects feel warmer to the touch than red ones of the same temperature. (Scientific American and Scientific Reports are part of Nature Publishing Group.)
Participants in the study were led into a pitch-dark room with a temperature-controlled plate lit up in either blue or red. Placing their hands on the surface, they were asked to state whether it felt warm. Red-colored surfaces needed to be about 0.5 degrees C hotter than blue ones before they felt at all warm to the touch.