Lincoln: If a recent study is to be believed, black may soon replace reds and pinks as the official colour of love. So, are you ready for a black Valentine's Day? Or better, are you ready to swap the traditional red wedding outfit for black?

According to new research, black has emerged as the colour of choice when it comes to finding new love. The study is based on the hit reality TV series First Dates, which shows that single people wear more of the darker hue when meeting a potential partner for the first time.

For long, many researches have suggested that red increases the perceived sexual receptivity of the wearer, while black increases how fashionable the person is thought to be. Psychology researchers analysed episodes from the popular reality show and compared how much black, red, and blue clothing was worn by daters in the pre-date interview with how much they wore on the first date itself.

The study examined the dressing habits of 546 daters across six series of the show and found that both men and women wore more red clothing during the dating scenario compared with the pre-date interview but there was a larger increase in the amount of black clothing on display during the dates such as black shoes, trousers, and dresses. The researchers also found that more black than red was worn overall in both contexts. There was no difference in the amount of blue clothing worn between the interview and date scenarios.

All daters were free to wear their own choices of clothing for the show.

The research, led by the University of Lincoln, UK, reveals insights into the mechanisms people employ to increase their attractiveness and show their intentions to potential partners. 

Dr Robin Kramer, a lead researcher from the University of Lincoln's School of Psychology, said, "Red is traditionally seen as the colour of love but more recent research has shown that both black and red are perceived as equally attractive and that the two colours may simply increase attractiveness in different ways."

He said that while red may increase perceived attractiveness through evolutionary mechanisms, dates appear to rely more heavily on black in order to attract a potential mate, suggesting that cultural and societal influences may play a much larger role in the way people dress than the use of evolutionary signals.

Co-author Jerrica Mulgrew, a research assistant at Trent University Canada added, "Our results provide the first real-world demonstration that people display more red and black clothing when meeting a potential partner for the first time and it was particularly interesting to find a larger increase in the amount of black worn as this wasn't the focus when we designed the study."

Researchers now plan to investigate this phenomenon further to determine if these different motivations manifest in real-world dating scenarios or whether daters were employing a more conservative approach until they had established the attractiveness of their date.