No effect of blue on winning contests in judo

Peter D. Dijkstra, Paul T.Y. Preenen

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28 Scopus citations


A study by Rowe et al. reported a winning bias for judo athletes wearing a blue outfit relative to those wearing a white one during the 2004 Olympics. It was suggested that blue is associated with a higher likelihood of winning through differential effects of colour on opponent visibility and/or an intimidating effect on the opponent. However, we argue that there is no colour effect on winning in judo. We show that alternative factors, namely allocation biases, asymmetries in prior experience and differences in recovery time are possible confounding factors in the analysis of Rowe et al. After controlling for these factors, we found no difference in blue and white wins. We further analysed contest outcomes of 71 other major judo tournaments and also found no winning bias. Our findings have implications for sports policy makers: they suggest that a white-blue outfit pairing ensures an equal level of play.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1157-1162
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1639
StatePublished - May 22 2008


  • Aggression
  • Competition outcome
  • Human performance
  • Judo
  • Sexual selection
  • Status signalling


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