- A red dot indicates that a person does not wish to be hugged.
- A yellow dot indicates that a person wishes to be asked first before being hugged.
- A green dot indicates that a person wishes to be hugged.
In addition, a blue dot is sometimes used to signal that one is single and seeking a mate. Various combinations of colored dots can express subtle or complex preferences, like "no most of the time, but maybe yes occasionally" (a red dot with a crescent of yellow or green sticking out beneath it). Other colors have occasionally appeared with particular meanings, such as the black dots used to protest the change in management of the 2007 Annual Gathering of American Mensa.
Of course, the person wearing hugging dots still retains full rights over his or her own body which can result in changing their mind in particular cases, such as red-dotted persons hugging a close friend when they meet, and green-dotted people declining a hug from somebody they regard as "creepy".