Using motion-capture technology, psychologists from the UK tracked the dance moves of 39 women. They then translated the moves into a handful of 15-second dancing avatar videos, which they showed to 57 men and 143 women.
The viewers, all of whom were heterosexual, were asked to rate each avatar based on their dancing ability. The findings were recently published in the journal Scientific Reports.
The study determined that there are three key characteristics of movement that indicate a “good” dancer (we’re using quotes, because we reject the concept of “bad” dancing):
- Hip swinging
- Asymmetric thigh movements
- Slightly less asymmetrical arm movements
This avatar video by Northumbria University shows the movement of a positively-rated dancer:
The creepy, unfinished holodeck ghost robot avatar is throwing us off. But try, if you can, to imagine a real woman dancing that way, and then ask yourself: Do I find that sexy?
Of course, the sample size and scope of the study was small and solidified in Western culture. The same study in a different culture would likely yield entirely different results. Yet, the researchers suggest the study might point to some universal characteristics of “sexy.”
“We suspect that they all form honest cues to reproductive potential, health, and personality,” said lead author Dr Nick Neave.
For comparison’s sake, here’s a video of one of the lowest-rated dances.
“The way that you move is very crucially linked to your health, your hormonal status, and your personality and also possibly things like intelligence and creativity,” Neave told The Guardian. “You are seeing someone move and you are able to interpret an awful lot about that person from the way that they move.”
Moral of the story: Just dance, however you want to.