Background: Research concerning sexual selection suggests that ornaments and traits convey information that is valuable to observers when making decisions based on adaptive problems. In the animal kingdom males perform dynamic courtship displays and females assess such displays when choosing a mate. In humans however this avenue of research is in its infancy but an emerging field of study has sought to find out if dance movements, which are thought to be courtship displays, provide observers with condition dependent information. Objectives: i) To create a methodology that records dance movements with high accuracy whilst eliminating structural cues known to influence mate choice decisions while maintaining a highly realistic human form. ii) Use this methodology to assess whether traits of interest (health, fitness, strength and age) can be detected by observers. iii) To establish if particular movements are mediating perceptions of dance quality and their condition. Methods: A cutting edge motion capture system and professional animation software was used to record dances. Each male dancer either provided information on his health status, physical fitness, strength or age. Dance animations were shown to observers and their perceptions were correlated against the traits of interest. These were also correlated against basic biomechanical characteristics to establish possible mediators. Results: It was revealed that whilst health measures were not related to dance ratings, strength measures were and these perceptions were mediated by movements of the upper body. A final study found that age was detectable by male participants and related to masculinity ratings of female raters but no biomechanical mediators were found. Conclusion: Men and women are able to derive certain quality cues from observing male dance and in some instances biomechanical characteristics mediated this relationship. This provides evidence that dance may be used in the assessment of males in the context of sexual selection.
|Publication status||In preparation - 2012|