Pink Paint Used to Win Football Games and Calm Prison Inmates

At the University of Iowa football stadium, the opponent’s locker rooms are painted pink, including the toilets.

Believe it or not, the University of Iowa actually painted the opponent’s locker room at their football stadium pink. And not just any pink, a Pepto Bismol-esque shade known widely as “drunk tank pink.” This particular shade of pink wasn’t chosen at random by university officials; it wasn’t a superstitious experiment akin to not washing underwear; and it wasn’t just some sexist insult to incoming teams. No, this shade of pink was chosen because research had shown that when people were exposed to it for an extended period of time, their muscles actually weakened and their mood calmed. If opposing teams could lose a little pep by staring at Pepto, couldn’t that be a nice boost to the home team?

University of Iowa opponent football locker room.

In the late 1970s, researcher Alexander Schauss experimented with the color on himself and found that when he stared at posters colored in this exact shade of pink, his heart rate would slow, as would his pulse and respiration. This particular color had a more profound effect on him than any other color.

The experiment made Schauss so curious that he was able to talk two Naval officers into letting him paint Naval correctional prison cells, from ceiling to floor, that color. The result? The Navy reported the following: “Since the initiation of this procedure on 1 March 1979, there have been no incidents of erratic or hostile behavior during the initial phase of confinement.” They found that only 15 minutes of exposure to the color were enough to have a marked effect.

Drunk Tank Pink used at several prisons and correctional facilities to calm inmates in prison cells.

The results of the Navy experiment were so convincing, that other correctional facilities followed suit. The Santa Clara County jail, the California VA psychiatric hospital, and the San Bernardino youth clinic all joined in painting their facilities pink. The Iowa State University football team wasn’t far behind when the results of the research were published.

If you want to mimic the color for your own purposes (whatever they may be), you can find it named “Baker-Miller Pink” (named after the two Naval officers who allowed the experiment), “Schauss Pink,” “P-618,” or “Drunk Tank Pink.” If you’re using Photoshop, the hexidecimal code for the color is #FF91AF, CMYK 0-43-41-0, or RGB 255-145-175.