Science can make you a better dancer - or at least improve your chances of not looking stupid to the opposite sex, say a group of evolutionary psychologists who used 3D motion-capture technology to create uniform avatar figures and identified the key movement areas of the male dancer’s body that influence female perceptions of whether their dance skills are “good” or “bad”.
Apparently it all comes down to neck, trunk, left shoulder and wrist, the variability of movement size of the neck, trunk and left wrist, and the speed of movement of the right knee.
Sounds simple, right? Read on.
The research was led by Dr. Nick Neave and grad student Kristofor McCarty at Northumbria University and they say it has identified potential biomechanical differences between “good” and “bad” male dancers. Neave believes that such dance movements may form honest signals of a man’s reproductive quality, in terms of health, vigor or strength (see 2009's 'Men’s physical strength is associated with women’s perceptions of their dancing ability' by Hugill, N., Fink, B., Neave, N.,&Seydel, H. in Personality and Individual Differences, 47: 527-530) and will carry out further research to fully grasp the implications.
Good dancing. Hey, it's the Running Man. Old School! Credit: Northumbria University
They filmed 19 male volunteers aged 18-35 with a 3-D camera system as they danced to a basic rhythm. Their real-life movements were mapped onto feature-less, white, gender-neutral humanoid characters, or avatars, so that 35 heterosexual women could rate their dance moves without being prejudiced by each male’s individual level of physical attractiveness.
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