Biology Letters
Restricted accessEvolutionary biology

Male dance moves that catch a woman's eye

Nick Neave

Nick Neave

School of Life Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8ST, UK

[email protected]

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,
Kristofor McCarty

Kristofor McCarty

School of Life Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8ST, UK

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,
Jeanette Freynik

Jeanette Freynik

Department of Sociobiology/Anthropology, Institute of Zoology and Anthropology, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany

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,
Nicholas Caplan

Nicholas Caplan

School of Life Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8ST, UK

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,
Johannes Hönekopp

Johannes Hönekopp

School of Life Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8ST, UK

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and
Bernhard Fink

Bernhard Fink

Department of Sociobiology/Anthropology, Institute of Zoology and Anthropology, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany

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Published:https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2010.0619

    Male movements serve as courtship signals in many animal species, and may honestly reflect the genotypic and/or phenotypic quality of the individual. Attractive human dance moves, particularly those of males, have been reported to show associations with measures of physical strength, prenatal androgenization and symmetry. Here we use advanced three-dimensional motion-capture technology to identify possible biomechanical differences between women's perceptions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ male dancers. Nineteen males were recorded using the ‘Vicon’ motion-capture system while dancing to a basic rhythm; controlled stimuli in the form of avatars were then created in the form of 15 s video clips, and rated by 39 females for dance quality. Initial analyses showed that 11 movement variables were significantly positively correlated with perceived dance quality. Linear regression subsequently revealed that three movement measures were key predictors of dance quality; these were variability and amplitude of movements of the neck and trunk, and speed of movements of the right knee. In summary, we have identified specific movements within men's dance that influence women's perceptions of dancing ability. We suggest that such movements may form honest signals of male quality in terms of health, vigour or strength, though this remains to be confirmed.

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