Male dancers signal their strength to men, women

January 28, 2013, Northumbria University

Heterosexual men pick up clues about other men's physical qualities from their dance moves just as heterosexual women do, say researchers at Northumbria University.

A study, led by psychologist Dr Nick Neave and researcher Kristofor McCarty, used 3D motion-capture technology and biomechanical analyses to examine the extent to which male dancing provides clues about the dancer's physical strength and fitness to both male and female observers.

The findings, published in the , suggest that male observers pick up on the strength of their potential rivals for female mates.

Researchers at Northumbria's School of Life Sciences filmed 30 males, aged 19-37, as they danced to a basic drum rhythm. Participants also completed a and assessments of upper and lower body strength. The dance clips were converted into virtual humanoid characters (avatars) and rated by women and men on perceived dance and physical qualities. The ratings were then correlated with various biomechanical indices.

The results showed that both sexes found significant positive associations between an individual's hand grip strength and their perceived dance quality, these qualities were picked up by the size and vigour of the movements of the upper body and arms.

Although it is traditionally thought that signals given off by men when they dance have been designed – like displays – to be interpreted as clues of their to the opposite sex, it seems that are also making use of these signals, presumably to detect a potential love rival.

Dr Nick Neave believes that this increased sensitivity to male qualities by other heterosexual men may be due to intrasexual rivalry – men sizing up the strength and virility of their competition.

He said: "Rated dance quality was positively associated with actual and these clues of upper-body strength were most accurately picked up by male observers. This ability to discern upper-body strength is principally because men are looking for cues of 'formidability' in other males.

"Upper-body strength is highly related to fighting ability as it reflects the ability to do damage, especially in intra-sexual conflicts. The ability to gauge strength before potential conflicts is sensible, especially to other males."

Also part of the research team were Northumbria University academics Dr Nick Caplan and Johannes Hönekopp, with Bernard Fink, from the Institute of Zoology and Anthropology, University of Göttingen, Germany.

Explore further: Ideal body size identified

More information: N. Neave et al, Male body movements as possible cues to physical strength: a biomechanical analysis, American Journal of Human Biology: AJHB-22360.

Related Stories

Ideal body size identified

December 3, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—The ideal male and female bodies according to each of the sexes have been identified by researchers at Newcastle University using a special 3D design programme. The findings, published today in the journal ...

A lifetime of physical activity yields measurable benefits as we age

August 25, 2011
The benefits of physical activity accumulate across a lifetime, according to a new study published in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Researchers in England and Australia examined the associations ...

Older men with higher testosterone levels lose less muscle mass as they age

October 27, 2011
A recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) found that higher levels of testosterone were associated with reduced loss of lean muscle mass in older ...

Recommended for you

Short-course treatment for combat-related PTSD offers expedited path to recovery

January 23, 2018
Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be debilitating and standard treatment can take months, often leaving those affected unable to work or care for their families. But, a new study demonstrated that many ...

Priming can negate stressful aspects of negative sporting environments, study finds

January 23, 2018
The scene is ubiquitous in sports: A coach yells at players, creating an environment where winning is the sole focus and mistakes are punished. New research from the University of Kansas shows that when participants find ...

Social and emotional skills linked to better student learning

January 23, 2018
Students with well-developed and adaptive social and emotional behaviours are most likely to excel in school, according to UNSW researchers in educational psychology.

Study of learning and memory problems in OCD helps young people unlock potential at school

January 22, 2018
Adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have widespread learning and memory problems, according to research published today. The findings have already been used to assist adolescents with OCD obtain the help ...

People with prosthetic arms less affected by common illusion

January 22, 2018
People with prosthetic arms or hands do not experience the "size-weight illusion" as strongly as other people, new research shows.

Intensive behavior therapy no better than conventional support in treating teenagers with antisocial behavior

January 19, 2018
Research led by UCL has found that intensive and costly multisystemic therapy is no better than conventional therapy in treating teenagers with moderate to severe antisocial behaviour.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.