Nadine Hugill, Bernhard Fink, Nick Neave, Anna Besson and Laurel Bunse

Women’s perception of men’s sensation seeking propensity from their dance movements

Personality and Individual Differences

Risk-taking behaviour in men, an expression of the more general personality trait sensation seeking, has been hypothesized to be an evolved aspect of male psychology that arose through sexual selection. Sensation seeking could be seen as a costly behavioural trait that signals a man’s health and vigour and is preferred by women. This study extends knowledge about risk-taking as a cue in human mate choice by examining whether women can perceive men’s sensation seeking propensity (assessed with the Sensation Seeking Scale Form V; SSS-V) by viewing their dance movements. We videotaped 50 men’s dancing and had 60 women judge each dancer on perceived attractiveness and risk-taking. A positive and significant correlation was found between women’s attractiveness judgements and male’s SSS-V total score, thrill and adventure seeking, disinhibition and boredom susceptibility. Further, women’s risk-taking judgements were related to men’s boredom susceptibility. We conclude that (i) male sensation seeking propensity is signalled via their dance movements, and (ii) women are sensitive to these cues as they consider men who score high on sensation seeking as attractive. We discuss our results with reference to the evolutionary psychology concept of sexual selection and mate preferences.