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 August 1, 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 August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Escaping Email: Inspired Vision or Pipe Dream?

Escaping Email: Inspired Vision or Pipe Dream?

AP (Aug. 1, 2014) Dustin Moskovitz is plotting an escape from email, using his communications expertise in an attempt to change the way people connect at work, where the incessant drumbeat of email has become an excruciating annoyance. (Aug. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Emory Prepares to Treat American Ebola Cases

Emory Prepares to Treat American Ebola Cases

AP (Aug. 1, 2014) Plans are underway to bring back the two American aid workers sick with Ebola from Africa. The U.S. State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are helping to arrange the evacuation. (Aug. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Greenpeace Ship Arctic Sunrise Free to Leave Russia

Greenpeace Ship Arctic Sunrise Free to Leave Russia

AFP (Aug. 1, 2014) Greenpeace's ship Arctic Sunrise, held in custody by the Russian authorities since September last year, has departed the Russian city of Murmansk en route for its home port of Amsterdam. Duration: 01:04 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct

US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct

AP (Aug. 1, 2014) U.S. employers extended their hiring surge into July by adding a solid 209,000 jobs. It was the sixth straight month of job growth above 200,000, evidence that businesses are gradually shedding the caution that had marked the 5-year-old recovery. (Aug. 1) 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:
from the past week

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