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Objectives

Comparative research suggests that male courtship displays signal condition-dependent traits tofemales; these displays might also provide cues to potential male competitors. Although some associations betweenhuman movements and physical/behavioral qualities have been found, such research has typically only been conducted from a perspective of female mate choice. Here, using advanced motion capture and biomechanical analyses, we examine the extent to which male dancing provides cues about the dancer's physical qualities to both males and females.

Methods

Thirty men aged 19–37 were recorded using motion-capture technology as they danced to a standard rhythm. Participants also completed a vascular fitness test, assessments of upper- and lower-body strength, and biomechanical indices were extracted from their dance movements. Dance clips were converted into virtual humanoid characters (avatars) and rated by 27 women and 21 men on perceived dance quality.

Results

General linear mixed modeling revealed that both handgrip strength and arm movements of the dancer were statistically significant predictors of dance quality ratings; stronger males who displayed larger, more variable, and faster movements of their arms being rated as better dancers. There was no effect of the sex of the observer in predicting dance quality ratings, indicating that male and female observers rated dance quality equivalently. Physical fitness was not associated with perceived dance quality.

Conclusions

Men and women are able to derive certain quality cues from observing male dance movements in the form of controlled stimuli. Thus, male dancing may form a condition-dependent ornament of certain aspects of mate quality. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 25:307–312, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.