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Turns out Phil Mickelson was right about study that black uniforms increase aggression

April 11, 2015

Phil Mickelson is renowned in his circles for his knowledge — or alleged knowledge — on a variety of arcane subjects. Is wearing black to increase aggression one of them?

In his CBS interview following the third round of the Masters on Saturday, Mickelson said he'd wear black on Sunday. "Helps me get more aggressive," he said. "Studies have shown that when NFL teams wear black they have more penalties."

Really, Phil? Apparently so, according to a 1988 study by a professor of psychology at Cornell Thomas Gilovich and a graduate student Mark G. Frank that was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.


Mickelson wearing all black in final round of 2014 PGA Championship (Getty Images)

The title of the study: "The dark side of self and social perception: Black uniforms and aggression in professional sports."

The introduction (emphasis ours):

"Black is viewed as the color of evil and death in virtually all cultures. With this association in mind, we were interested in whether a cue as subtle as the color of a person's clothing might have a significant impact on his or her behavior. To test this possibility, we examined whether professional football and ice hockey teams that wear black uniforms are more aggressive than those that wear nonblack uniforms. > An analysis of the penalty records of the National Football League and the National Hockey League indicate that teams with black uniforms in both sports ranked near the top of their leagues in penalties through the period of study. On those occasions when a team switched from nonblack to black uniforms, the switch was accompanied by an immediate increase in penalties."

Score one for the man in black. Mickelson will begin the final round of the Masters five strokes behind leader Jordan Spieth.