The role of human body movements in mate selection

Nadine Hugill, Bernhard Fink, Nick Neave

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


It is common scientific knowledge, that most of what we say within a conversation is not only expressed by the words meaning alone, but also through our gestures, postures, and body movements. This non-verbal mode is possibly rooted firmly in our human evolutionary heritage, and as such, some scientists argue that it serves as a fundamental assessment and expression tool for our inner qualities. Studies of nonverbal communication have established that a universal, culture-free, non-verbal sign system exists, that is available to all individuals for negotiating social encounters. Thus, it is not only the kind of gestures and expressions humans use in social communication, but also the way these movements are performed, as this seems to convey key information about an individuals quality. Dance, for example, is a special form of movement, which can be observed in human courtship displays. Recent research suggests that people are sensitive to the variation in dance movements, and that dance performance provides information about an individuals mate quality in terms of health and strength. This article reviews the role of body movement in human non-verbal communication, and highlights its significance in human mate preferences in order to promote future work in this research area within the evolutionary psychology framework.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-89
JournalEvolutionary Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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