Sexual selection may have shaped male visual sensitivity to characteristics that provide information about female mate quality. Indeed, men judge certain facial and bodily configurations of women to be attractive, possibly because those configurations signal health and fertility. Most of this evidence derives from the study of women's facial and body photographs. We tested the hypothesis that attractive female dancers receive greater visual attention from men than do unattractive dancers. Twenty-nine men viewed video pairs of pre-categorized high and low attractive female dancers. Their eye gaze was tracked and they also provided ratings of attractiveness, femininity, and dance movement harmony. High attractive dancers received greater visual attention than did low attractive dancers and men's visual attention correlated positively with their judgments of attractiveness, femininity, and dance movement harmony. We discuss our findings in the context of the ‘beauty captures the mind of the beholder’ hypothesis and the role of dance movements in human mate selection.
Studies of several mammalian species confirm that formant frequencies (vocal tract resonances) predict height and weight better than does fundamental frequency (F0, perceived as pitch) in same-sex adults due to differential anatomical constraints. However, our recent meta-analysis (Pisanski et al., 2014, Animal Behaviour, 95, 89–99) indicated that formants and F0 could explain no more than 10% and 2% of the variance in human height, respectively, controlling for sex and age. Here, we examined whether other voice parameters, many of which are affected by sex hormones, can indicate additional variance in human body size or shape, and whether these relationships differ between the sexes. Using a cross-cultural sample of 700 men and women, we examined relationships among 19 voice parameters (minimum–maximum F0, mean F0, F0 variability, formant-based vocal tract length estimates, shimmer, jitter, harmonics-to-noise ratio) and eight indices of body size or shape (height, weight, body mass index, hip, waist and chest circumferences, waist-to-hip ratio, chest-to-hip ratio). Our results confirm that formant measures explain the most variance in heights and weights of men and women, whereas shimmer, jitter and harmonics-to-noise ratio do not indicate height, weight or body mass index in either sex. In contrast, these perturbation and noise parameters, in addition to F0 range and variability, explained more variance in body shape than did formants or mean F0, particularly among men. Shimmer or jitter explained the most variance in men's hip circumferences (12%) and chest-to-hip ratios (6%), whereas harmonics-to-noise ratio and formants explained the most variance in women's waist-to-hip ratios (11%), and significantly more than in men's waist-to-hip ratios. Our study represents the most comprehensive analysis of vocal indicators of human body size to date and offers a foundation for future research examining the hormonal mechanisms of voice production in humans and perceptual playback experiments.
Animals often use acoustical cues, such as formant frequencies, to assess the size of potential mates and rivals. Reliable vocal cues to size may be under sexual selection. In most mammals and many other vertebrates, formants scale with vocal tract length allometrically and predict variation in size more reliably than fundamental frequency or pitch (F0). In humans, however, it is unclear from previous work how well voice parameters predict body size independently of age and sex. We conducted a meta-analysis to establish the strength of various voice–size relationships in adult men and women. We computed mean weighted correlations from 295 coefficients derived from 39 independent samples across five continents, including several novel and large cross-cultural samples from previously unpublished data. Where possible, we controlled for sample size, sample sex, mean age, geographical location, study year, speech type and measurement method, and ruled out publication bias. Eleven of 12 formant-based vocal tract length (VTL) estimates predicted men's and women's heights and weights significantly better than did F0. Individual VTL estimates explained up to 10% of the variance in height and weight, whereas F0 explained less than 2% and correlated only weakly with size within sexes. Statistically reliable size estimates from F0 required large samples of at least 618 men and 2140 women, whereas formant-based size estimates required samples of at least 99 men and 164 women. The strength of voice–size relationships varied by sample size, and in some cases sex, but was largely unaffected by other demographic and methodological variables. We confirm here that, analogous to many other vertebrates, formants provide the most reliable vocal cue to size in humans. This finding has important implications for honest signalling theory and the capacity for human listeners to estimate size from the voice.
Here we show that gender identification of male (but not female) heterosexual, right-handed dancers correlates with physical strength (measured via handgrip strength) after controlling for the effect of body-mass-index on strength. Using optical motion capture technology, we collected the dance movements of men and women for subsequent animations of uniform shape- and texture-standardized virtual characters (avatars). Short video clips (15. s) of these movements were presented to male and female adults and children, who were asked to identify the gender of the avatar. Gender identification performance was significantly higher than chance for both adults and children. Among adults (but not among children) the avatars of male dancers who were physically stronger were perceived as males significantly more often than were the avatars of male dancers who were physically weaker. There was no relationship between strength and gender identification for female dancers. We conclude that physical strength affects gender identification from human dance movements at least for male dancers, and that pre-pubertal children might not be sensitive to strength cues in dance movements.
Research in the field of psychological aesthetics points to the appeal of stimuli which defy easy recognition by being “semantically unstable” but which still allow for creating meaning—in the ongoing process of elaborative perception or as an end product of the entire process. Such effects were reported for hidden images (Muth and Carbon, 2013) as well as Cubist artworks concealing detectable—although fragmented—objects (Muth et al., 2013). To test the stability of the relationship between semantic determinacy and appreciation across different episodic contexts, 30 volunteers evaluated an artistic movie continuously on visual determinacy or liking via the Continuous Evaluation Procedure (CEP, Muth et al., 2015b). The movie consisted of five episodes with emerging Gestalts. In the first between-participants condition, the hidden Gestalts in the movie episodes were of increasing determinacy, in the second condition, the episodes showed decreasing determinacies of hidden Gestalts. In the increasing-determinacy group, visual determinacy was rated higher and showed better predictive quality for liking than in the decreasing-determinacy group. Furthermore, when the movie started with low visual determinacy of hidden Gestalts, unexpectedly strong increases in visual determinacy had a bigger effect on liking than in the condition which allowed for weaker Gestalt recognition after having started with highly determinate Gestalts. The resulting pattern calls for consideration of the episodic context when examining art appreciation.