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What makes someone appear sexy?

Research reveals our visual system is a 'sensitive lie detector'

Date:
August 10, 2015
Source:
Queen's University
Summary:
What makes humans attractive to other humans? Experts believe that it is the consistency of the whole appearance rather than the attractiveness of the parts.
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Queen's University professor Nikolaus Troje (Psychology, Biology, School of Computing) believes that it is the consistency of the whole appearance rather than the attractiveness of the parts.

"Most previous work on attractiveness focused on the effect of isolated features." says Dr. Troje. "The current study demonstrates how important it is that these features fit together well."

Participants were shown schematic point-light displays that depict a person using 15 moving dots. The representation conveyed both the individual characteristics of a person's movements and their individual body shape.

Dr. Troje's team isolated these two areas and separately measured the attractiveness of individual movement styles as well as individual body shapes based on ratings obtained from his research participants. The researchers then combined the movement style of one person with the body shapes of another person and collected attractiveness ratings from these "hybrid walkers."

Based on this data, the researchers asked the question: Is the attractiveness of the isolated movement and the attractiveness of the isolated body shape sufficient to predict the attractiveness of the hybrid walker?

It is not; the hybrid walkers are deemed less attractive than predicted by the movement and the shape used to make them.

"We found that attractiveness depends on internal consistency -- whether the movement and the shape match each other or not," says Dr. Troje. "Our visual system is a sensitive lie detector that perceives even the slightest inconsistencies and responds negatively to them."

The results call for re-examination of earlier research that looked at attractiveness in a piecemeal way.

"They can also be used to formulate advice to people who are working on improving their own appearance," says Dr. Troje. "What works for one person may not work for another one. If in doubt, just be yourself."


Story Source:

Materials provided by Queen's University. Original written by Anne Craig. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Malte Klüver, Heiko Hecht, Nikolaus F. Troje. Internal consistency predicts attractiveness in biological motion walkers. Evolution and Human Behavior, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2015.07.001

Cite This Page:

Queen's University. "What makes someone appear sexy? Research reveals our visual system is a 'sensitive lie detector'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 August 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150810110636.htm>.
Queen's University. (2015, August 10). What makes someone appear sexy? Research reveals our visual system is a 'sensitive lie detector'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 28, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150810110636.htm
Queen's University. "What makes someone appear sexy? Research reveals our visual system is a 'sensitive lie detector'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150810110636.htm (accessed May 28, 2017).

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