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    There's Science To Dancing Also
    By News Staff | September 7th 2010 09:07 PM | 19 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    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, v
    igor 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. 



    Edit Sept. 10: On Ira Flatow's Science Friday today, the more elaborately-produced version above.   Not being a non-profit is the worst mistake we could have made.  Imagine the production values we could have on this site with government funding!

    The results showed those eight movement variables made the difference between a “good” and a “bad” dancer.   Female perceptions of good dance quality were influenced most greatly by large and varied movements involving the neck and trunk. 



    Bad dancing.   Hey, this is a Cabbage Patch-free site.   Credit: Northumbria University

    Neave said,  “This is the first study to show objectively what differentiates a good dancer from a bad one. Men all over the world will be interested to know what moves they can throw to attract women.   We now know which area of the body females are looking at when they are making a judgement about male dance attractiveness. If a man knows what the key moves are, he can get some training and improve his chances of attracting a female through his dance style.” 

    Kristofor McCarty said, “The methods we have used here have allowed us to make some preliminary predictions as to why dance has evolved. Our results clearly show that there seems to be a strong general consensus as to what is seen as a good and bad dance, and that women appear to like and look for the same sort of moves.  From this, we predict that those observations have underlying traits associated with them but further research must be conducted to support such claims.”


    If you're not a dancer, Neave is also Module Tutor for ‘Parapsychology’, ‘Evolutionary Psychology’, and ‘Hormones&Behaviour’ courses.   McCarty is investigating the role of testosterone in the home advantage in soccer.   Other researchers were Drs. Nick Caplan,  Johannes Hönekopp, Jeanette Freynik and Bernhard Fink, from the University of Goettingen.

    Citation: Nick Neave1, Kristofor McCarty, Jeanette Freynik, Nicholas Caplan, Johannes Hönekopp,  Bernhard Fink, 'Male dance moves that catch a woman's eye', Biology LettersPublished online before print September 8, 2010, doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2010.0619

    Edit Sept. 9:
    Don't believe it works?  On YouTube, a user named girlmeetsbike mapped the movements and re-choreographed Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance".   Tell us you wouldn't be impressed by this guy if you saw him on a dance floor.


    Comments

    Andrea Kuszewski
    I have a better method of rating male dancing.

    If he dances to the actual rhythm of the music playing, award 100 pts.
    If he is Latino, add 10 pts.
    If his shirt is unbuttoned more than 2 buttons from the top, subtract 10 pts (if he is Latino, he gets a pass, unless he doesn't have a great physique, in which case, subtract 10 pts)
    If he is wearing a gold chain, subtract 2 pts (unless he is Latino).
    If he is wearing more than one gold chain, subtract 20 pts.
    If he is Latino and wearing no gold chain at all, add 15 pts.
    If he can move his hips without looking like he's in an 80s movie, add 10 pts.
    If he can move his hips without moving his torso more than 5 degrees of displacement, add 50 pts.
    If he makes facial expressions that resembles constipation, subtract 5 pts.
    If he can dance without breaking eye-contact with me for more than 30 seconds, add 50 pts.
    If dancing with him makes me want to have sex, add 100 pts.
    If he can tango, add 1000 pts.

    Hank
    If his shirt is unbuttoned more than 2 buttons from the top, subtract 10 pts


    Darn it! Whenever I hang out with Matthew Matthew McConaughey we go 4 deep - 'give the ladies a little taste,' he says. Curse you, Matthew McConaughey!

    Here's him and Lance Armstrong as an example. I am dressed the same way, but taking the picture:

    If they are doing it, we know that look works!

    Andrea Kuszewski
    Darn it! Whenever I hang out with Matthew Matthew McConaughey we go 4 deep - 'give the ladies a little taste,' he says. Curse you, Matthew McConaughey!
    Well, Matthew McConaughey is known for going about town shirtless whenever weather permits, so for him, this is the equivalent of going 2 deep. Although, when you look like Matthew McConaughey, you can get away with practically anything and still be sexy. In fact, he probably had that shirt off about 4 minutes after that photo was taken.
    Hank
    Good point.  I look best in winter clothes, preferably the color of mulch.  Curse you again for making me think about that, McConaughey!   I shall eat a high-calorie diner breakfast and follow it up with a 16 oz. mocha to drown my sorrows.
    SciencePimp
    I don't know if I can buy into this one. It seems that with no other physical queues for women to observe about the dancer, they'd simply assume that the "Bad Dancer" was moving in a way that resembles a geriatric. The "Good Dancer" (though "good" is debatable) looked like it had a small rodent in its pants - simply moved more like a younger person.

    Since we don’t exist in a vacuum, it’s unlikely that an ugly old dude would be able to get a girl’s interest even if he produced all the “right” moves - drawing any conclusions deeper than this would simply be fooling oneself in the real-world. Just my humble opinion - though for the record, I do have all the right moves. :-)
    Hank
    It's a tricky part of social studies and certainly a frequent shark-jumping event in evolutionary psychology.   But women associating physical strength with men's dancing ability, his study last year, is not exactly solid science either.  Basically, at least a few pick a cultural point they want to make and then gather some data and then interpret it to match the point they want to make.   Topology matching in the classic sense.  

    Before neuroscience can truly take its place and make the workings of the brain the finding of the 21st century, this kookiness has to be weeded out.   As people keep making money doing that stuff, it will exist as a field.
    SynapticNulship
    In fact, Neave doesn't even provide evidence that women are attracted to the dancers with dance moves judged as good--unless there is more to the study than rating "dance quality."  Did the women also rate attractiveness or sexiness of these dancing T-1000s?
    SciencePimp
    Here is how "results" would look like if the test was done for men...

    "It was interesting to note that men in the test group were indifferent to the good versus bad dance composite videos of women. Instead, they focused entirely on the movement of the area just below the neck and the area just below the waist - finding both dancing figures equally attractive. After the test group was given several shots of vodka, thoroughly inebriated, and given the test again - the group responded to the test exactly the same even though the videos weren't playing and the subjects were shown a blank screen."


    Hank
    Yours seems to be a much simpler equation than an entire article here on what was called The Jager Curve.

    SciencePimp
    Wow, now it's all starting to make sense...I happen to love Jager - hahaha.
    I find it difficult to believe that all 19 guys danced only 2 ways, or that these are a mapping of the "common" moves between them in either instance. Without having access to the questions they asked, the answers they gave, or the background of the "dancers" (IE: How many of the "good dancers" had classical instruction of some kind, and how many of them had none?) I can't really consider this to be legitimate "research".

    I have to agree, junk science at best...

    SynapticNulship
    And in other "science" news, see my comparison of Tango to the Fish Stick.
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    "Men all over the world will be interested to know what moves they can throw to attract women." This research has got to be a joke, it reminds me of some other psychological research in which psychologists were unable to agree on 'what is humour?'.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Tips for dancing, nod on the rich sounds, and the sexy sounds, distract the girl from anything you hear that sick or painful. But all the same, she just won't get the ribbon you danced to until she's back at home.

    Hank
    The person who did the Lady Gaga "Bad Romance" YouTube in the article above also decided to put Good Dancer and Bad Dancer in a video together but, like Pacino and Brando in "The Godfather II" they are telling their own stories so never actually appear together.    Only thing missing: Rick Astley ...

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Well, here's a good dancer, in my opinion, Christopher Walken. I wonder how many 'good moves' 35 heterosexual women would rate on an avatar version of this video? See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEyY6LEUWUw
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Hank
    Inspired by these videos, a YouTube contributor writes:
    'Psychologist, bartender Joe' exposed 19 drunks to female dance moves and concluded there are good and bad dance moves for females also:

    SynapticNulship
    LOL
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Here is a compilation of amazing dance moves from probably the world's greatest dancer....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOjPGTj3Beo
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine