Bernhard Fink, Bettina Weege, Nick Neave, Bettina Ried, and Olival C Do Lago (2014)

Female perceptions of male body movements

In: Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Sexual Psychology and Behavior, pp. 297-322, Springer.

The majority of studies on human physical appearance within the evolutionary psychology framework have focused on static two-dimensional representations of facial and body morphology. While such experiments are useful for testing people’s preferences and reactions to even subtle changes in physical features, there is an inherent limitation with regard to the ecological validity of these types of stimuli. Recent research on female perceptions of male body movements suggests that females derive similar cues of male “quality” from movement as from faces and bodies. Here we review studies on key biological and social characteristics that can be derived from body movements, with a focus on female perception of males, and present evidence for the assertion that male dance movements in particular affect female mate preferences. We support this by reporting preliminary empirical data of studies on (1) cross-cultural similarities and differences in female perceptions of male dance movements and (2) relationships between female perceptions of male dancing, running, and walking. Finally, we present some ideas for future research directions to stimulate the scientific investigation on the significance of male body movements in the context of inter- and intrasexual selection.