The color red has long been associated with bullfighting, which symbolizes the bull’s fury, and with financial adversity in the stock market, causing investors to tremble at the mere sight of it, says Steve Burns of New Trader U.

Yet, upon closer examination, the relationship between red and aggression or poor performance is far from straightforward. The truth behind why bulls are lured by the movement of the red cape and why investors react with pessimism to red information is multi-layered and captivating, beckoning us to unravel the intricacies and question our assumptions.

Bulls and the Color Red

Common Misconception

The widespread belief that bulls charge at the color red is just that—a belief. In actuality, bulls are red-green colorblind, unable to distinguish between the two. Rather than being attracted to the hue itself, bulls are incited by the cape’s movement, which they perceive as a threat. This misconception highlights our tendency to oversimplify complex phenomena, leading us to overlook the intricate details that drive behavior. Traders and investors often allow red on their screens to cause them to make bad decisions, and what they are really reacting to is the movement, not the color red. Over time red can cause a bearish bias in traders that lead them to make bad decisions when they hold on to the wrong belief outside the context of their system.

The History of Bullfighting and the Color Red

The utilization of red in bullfighting can be traced back to the 1700s when it was employed as a signifier of the bull’s wrath. This historical context underscores the cultural significance of red, revealing how it has been imbued with meaning over time and becoming intertwined with human experience. The symbolism of the bull’s anger, symbolized by the red cape, is a testament to the power of color to evoke emotional responses and shape societal norms.

Red, in particular, can trick our brains and has even been shown to affect performance: subjects solved anagrams more slowly when shown on red backgrounds versus blue backgrounds.
Color is a language soaked in moods and meanings: for example, in Western culture, red is bloodlust, heat, and passion. Green is life, luck, and wealth. Blue is sky, sea, and serenity but also melancholy. Sometimes we’re aware of these associations, but sometimes color unwittingly affects us.

The Cultural Significance of Red

The cultural significance of red is a rich and varied tapestry woven with the threads of history and human experience. In Western culture, red is synonymous with bloodlust, heat, and passion, embodying all that is raw and instinctual. Yet, in stark contrast, red holds a lucky connotation in China, where it is revered for its vibrancy and life-affirming qualities. These differing perspectives on red serve as a reminder of the subjective nature of color interpretation and how it can vary across cultures and time periods.

Examples of Red Around The World

    • In Western cultures, red is often associated with aggression, passion, and heat.
    • In China, red is considered to be a lucky color.
    • In Hinduism, red symbolizes purity and is used in traditional weddings.
  • In some Native American cultures, red represents courage and strength.
  • In many African cultures, red is associated with power and protection.
  • In Eastern cultures, red is seen as a symbol of prosperity and good fortune.
  • In Japan, red is associated with celebrations like the Japanese New Year.
  • In Islamic cultures, red is seen as a symbol of bravery and self-sacrifice.

The Impact of the Color Red on Stock Performance

The color red in the stock market has a profound effect on investors. Cultural associations and their ability to elicit particular emotional responses can cause some traders to be more conservative when presented with information written in this hue. However, not everyone is scientifically or culturally affected by these implications; Chinese investors often view red positively, and those with certain vision deficiencies can’t perceive it at all. As such, understanding how different groups interact with the powerful shade of scarlet reveals critical insight into modern markets worldwide.

How Red Can Play a Role in the Stock Market

    • Cultural associations with the color red can cause some traders to be conservative in the stock market.
    • Red in the stock market elicits specific emotional responses from investors.
    • The impact of the color red on investors reveals essential insight into worldwide markets.
  • The color red has a profound effect on investors in the stock market.
  • Most investors lose money when they see red on their positions, which can lead to a negative association with red.
  • Red can cause trauma to traders and investors due to its association with lost capital and bear markets.
  • Red numbers in the stock market can induce stress in traders and the fight and flight mode.
  • Traders are more likely to make bad decisions during red market action than green.

Overcoming Color Bias in Investing

Overcoming the color bias in investing requires a deep understanding of the impact of hues on our perceptions and decisions. Investors can take several steps to minimize the impact of this bias, starting with switching to black-and-white information representations on their charts. This eliminates the emotional response evoked by color and provides a more neutral and objective view of a chart’s performance. Another approach is to learn technical indicators, such as the simple moving average, which provides a comprehensive and data-driven assessment of a stock’s performance over time. By embracing a more objective and evidence-based approach to investing, traders can make better-informed decisions and maximize their returns. The key to success is to remain vigilant, challenge our biases, and continually seek new knowledge and information.

Tips for Overcoming Color Bias

    • Remove color from investment information by using black-and-white charts and graphs.
    • Consider using technical indicators such as the simple moving average, which objectively examines a stock’s performance over time.
    • Consider the emotional responses elicited by colors and be mindful of how they can influence trading and investment decisions.
  • Monitor personal biases and remain neutral when interpreting information in various colors.
  • Seek to create a quantified system with an edge to help navigate color bias in trading and investing.


The topic of color’s impact on bullfighting, aggression, and stock performance is intriguing and complex. Despite the pervasive belief that red is an ominous hue, investors don’t have to let the color scare them away from buying and holding trades and investments. By taking an objective and evidence-based approach, they can make well-informed decisions and avoid falling prey to color biases. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that color is one of many factors influencing our perceptions and decisions. As traders and investors, we must remain vigilant, continue learning and challenge our biases to make the most of our investments.

Learn more about Steve Burns at