October 2020
Volume 20, Issue 11
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   October 2020
The Role of Sexual Dimorphism in the Perception of Attractiveness and Confidence
Author Affiliations
  • Anne Thaler
    York University
  • Andreas Bieg
    Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics
  • Naureen Mahmood
    Meshcapade GmbH
  • Michael J. Black
    Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems
  • Betty J. Mohler
    Amazon Research, Tuebingen
  • Nikolaus F. Troje
    York University
Journal of Vision October 2020, Vol.20, 878. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.878
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      Anne Thaler, Andreas Bieg, Naureen Mahmood, Michael J. Black, Betty J. Mohler, Nikolaus F. Troje; The Role of Sexual Dimorphism in the Perception of Attractiveness and Confidence. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):878. https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.878.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Human gait patterns are rich in socially relevant information. While many studies have investigated sex-specific differences in walking style, little is known about how sexual dimorphism relates to the perceived attractiveness and confidence of a person. In two studies, 40 observers (20 female, 20 male) rated the attractiveness and another 36 observers (18 female, 18 male) rated the confidence of 50 men and 50 women from the bmlRUB motion capture database, each presented in three different ways in virtual reality: (a) as a 3D virtual character with each actor's individual shape and walking motion reconstructed from optical motion capture data using the MoSh algorithm (Loper et al. 2014, SIGGRAPH Asia), (b) as a static virtual character, and (c) as a walking stick-figure (Troje 2002, JOV). Correlations between all 12 sets of ratings (2 walker sex x 2 participant sex x 3 presentation types) of the two datasets revealed that sexual dimorphism in walking style plays a different role in male and female walkers for attractiveness and confidence ratings. Sexual dimorphism dominates female attractiveness and male confidence assigned to animated virtual characters and stick-figures. The more feminine a woman walks, the more attractive she is rated; the more masculine a man walks, the more confident he is rated. Perceived male attractiveness and female confidence, on the other hand, are determined by increased vertical body movements which make the walkers appear bouncy and energetic. High ratings of the static virtual characters are characterised by tall and slim body shapes for male and female attractiveness, and female confidence, and tall and strong body shapes for male confidence (as compared to small and heavy body shapes). Sexual dimorphism seems to play a different role in attributing biological and personality traits to male and female walkers, but male and female observers agree on their ratings.


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