February 1, 2013
He’s Got Moves So Sick, Even Straight Guys Are Picking Up What He’s Putting Down
Well, men, if the prospect of getting up and out onto that dance floor wasn’t daunting enough, we now know, from a study out of Northumbria University, that your subconscious is kicking into overdrive, too. Researchers have detailed how straight men will make an inference of another man’s physical qualities based on his dance moves.
The study, headed up by co-authors Dr. Nick Neave and Kristofor McCarty, employed the use of 3D motion-capture technology and biomechanical analyses for the purpose of examining how male dancing might offer up clues for the individual dancer’s physical strength and fitness, both for women and straight men, alike.
The research team published their findings, entitled ‘Male Body Movements as Possible Cues to Physical Strength: a Biomechanical Analysis’ in the American Journal of Human Biology. Their conclusions suggest males observing another male’s dance ability helps them to recognize the strength of a potential rival for the affections of their female mates.
The team, based out of the School of Life Sciences at Northumbria, selected and filmed 30 males, aged 19-37, dancing to a basic drum rhythm. The researchers also had each participant compete a fitness test and assessment of both upper and lower body strength.
Each participant’s filmed dance moves were then assigned to an avatar-like character, to remove any individual biases that might be inferred by seeing the actual dancer. Each clip was presented to, and rated by, men and women who were asked to perceive the dancer’s overall ability along with their physical qualities. Once the ratings were collected, the team then correlated them with various biomechanical indices.
Both straight men and women, according to the results, were able to perceive significant positive associations between an individual’s hand grip strength and their dance quality. The researchers contend the size and vigor of the movements of the upper body and arms of the dancer allowed these qualities to be recognized.
Dance is not something unique to the human condition. Many in the Animal Kingdom utilize their own forms of dance in their mating displays. It had long been thought that human dancing was a form of mating display with signals offering clues of their physical attributes being geared to the female of the species. This latest study, however, claims that even heterosexual men make use of those signals, though for a different reason. Straight men use another man’s dance ability to make decisions on whether or not that person is a potential love rival. According to co-author Neave, the increased sensitivity to male qualities by other straight men may be due to intra-sexual rivalry. Intra-sexual rivalry, to put it plainly, is when men will size up a rival’s perceived strength and virility.
“Rated dance quality was positively associated with actual grip strength and these clues of upper-body strength were most accurately picked up by male observers,” stated Neave. “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.”
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