Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Researchers Scientifically Link Dancing Ability To Mate Quality

Date:
December 22, 2005
Source:
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
Summary:
Dance has long been recognized as a signal of courtship in many animal species, including humans. Better dancers presumably attract more mates, or a more desirable mate. What's seemingly obvious in everyday life, however, has not always been rigorously verified by science. Now, a study by Rutgers scientists for the first time links dancing ability to established measures of mate quality in humans.

Rutgers anthropologists and University of Washington computer scientists created computer-animated figures that duplicated the movements of Jamaican teenagers dancing to popular music.
Credit: Image courtesy of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

Dance has long been recognized as a signal of courtship in many animal species, including humans. Better dancers presumably attract more mates, or a more desirable mate.

What's seemingly obvious in everyday life, however, has not always been rigorously verified by science. Now, a study by scientists at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, for the first time links dancing ability to established measures of mate quality in humans.

Reporting in Thursday's edition of the British science journal Nature, Rutgers anthropologists collaborating with University of Washington computer scientists describe how they created computer-animated figures that duplicated the movements of 183 Jamaican teenagers dancing to popular music. The researchers then asked peers of the dancers to evaluate the dancing ability of these animated figures. The figures were gender-neutral, faceless and the same size -- all to keep evaluators from boosting or dropping dancers' scores based on considerations other than dance moves.

The researchers also evaluated each dancer for body symmetry, an accepted indicator in most animal species -- including humans -- of how well an organism develops despite problems it encounters as it matures. Symmetry, and its association with attractiveness, therefore indicates an organism's underlying quality as a potential mate. The study showed that higher-rated dancers were typically people with greater body symmetry.

"At least since Darwin, scientists have suspected that dance so often plays a role in courtship because dance quality tracks with mate quality," said Lee Cronk, associate professor of anthropology. "But this has been hard to study because of the difficulty of isolating dance movements from variables, such as attractiveness, clothing and body features. By using motion-capture technology commonly employed in medical and sports science to isolate dance movements, we can confidently peg dancing ability to desirability."

Cronk and postdoctoral research fellow William Brown also examined results by the sex of the dancer. They found that symmetric males received better dance scores than symmetric females and that female evaluators rated symmetric men higher than male evaluators rated symmetric men.

"In species where fathers invest less than mothers in their offspring, females tend to be more selective in mate choice and males therefore invest more in courtship display," Brown said. "Our results with human subjects correlate with that expectation. More symmetrical men put on a better show, and women notice."

The researchers worked with a group of Jamaicans, building on earlier studies of physical symmetry in that population. The test group was ideal for a scientific study of dance, since in Jamaican society, dancing is important in the lives of both sexes. The dancers ranged in age from 14 through 19, and each danced to the same song, popular at the time in Jamaican youth culture. The researchers affixed infrared reflectors on 41 body locations of each dancer, from head-to-toe and arm-to-arm, to capture and measure detailed body movements. They fed data into programs that first created dancing animations of stick figures and then converted those animations into virtual human forms.

###

Rutgers researchers involved in the study included Cronk and Brown, along with Robert Trivers, professor of anthropology, and graduate student Amy Jacobson. Also assisting were Zoran Popovic, associate professor, and computer science and engineering graduate students Keith Grochow and Karen Liu, all from the University of Washington.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. "New Researchers Scientifically Link Dancing Ability To Mate Quality." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 December 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051222084117.htm>.
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. (2005, December 22). New Researchers Scientifically Link Dancing Ability To Mate Quality. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051222084117.htm
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. "New Researchers Scientifically Link Dancing Ability To Mate Quality." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051222084117.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Researchers in South Korea are developing a robotic pilot that could potentially replace humans in the cockpit. Unlike drones and autopilot programs which are configured for specific aircraft, the robots' humanoid design will allow it to fly any type of plane with no additional sensors. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Tens of thousands of doses of experimental Ebola vaccines could be available for "real-world" testing in West Africa as soon as January as long as they are deemed safe in soon to start trials, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Urgent-Care Clinics Ill-Equipped to Treat Ebola

Urgent-Care Clinics Ill-Equipped to Treat Ebola

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Urgent-care clinics popping up across the US are not equipped to treat a serious illness like Ebola and have been told to immediately call a hospital and public health officials if they suspect a patient may be infected. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins