June 2006
Volume 6, Issue 6
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   June 2006
A pedestrian courtship: Attractiveness and symmetry of humans walking
Author Affiliations
  • Javid Sadr
    Dept. of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
  • Nikolaus F. Troje
    Dept. of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, ON
  • Ken Nakayama
    Dept. of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Journal of Vision June 2006, Vol.6, 797. doi:10.1167/6.6.797
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      Javid Sadr, Nikolaus F. Troje, Ken Nakayama; A pedestrian courtship: Attractiveness and symmetry of humans walking. Journal of Vision 2006;6(6):797. doi: 10.1167/6.6.797.

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      © 2016 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.

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People are more than faces, and much of our perception of others derives from visual appraisal of bodies and their movement — rich sources of information as to gender, identity, etc. We find that, even ignoring overt courtship displays (eg, dancing), the mere act of walking, a ubiquitous human activity, provides observers a compelling percept of attractiveness. Previously, we demonstrated the influence of sexual dimorphism and prototypicality on attractiveness of human gait; here we extend this to examine the role of symmetry.

To do so, we obtain attractiveness ratings for motion-captured women, displayed as point-light walkers, and for their perfectly symmetric counterparts. Our results show that making symmetric an individual's body and movement can indeed increase attractiveness, although this benefit might not be seen for less attractive individuals. Moreover, a key feature of our approach (Troje, 2002) is the ability to independently manipulate the symmetry of either the body or its movement and thus investigate the contribution of each to attractiveness. Whereas previously examined anatomical asymmetries may be quite small and difficult to measure and to perceive visually, we propose that asymmetries in movement may be more readily observed and salient. Our results thus far indicate that, at least for more attractive individuals, symmetry of movement has a greater bearing on attractiveness than does anatomic symmetry.

In conclusion, we suggest that explicitly and independently manipulating anatomic and kinematic symmetry (and sexual dimorphism, prototypicality, etc) of motion-captured individuals provides an important complement to existing correlational and video-based methods in the study of person perception.

Sadr, J. Troje, N. F. Nakayama, K. (2006). A pedestrian courtship: Attractiveness and symmetry of humans walking [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 6(6):797, 797a, http://journalofvision.org/6/6/797/, doi:10.1167/6.6.797. [CrossRef]
 J. Sadr and K. Nakayama were funded in part by an NSF grant in Human and Social Dynamics. N. Troje was funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

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