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CANBERRA (Reuters Life!) - Men hoping to impress women on the dance floor now have science to help them. A European study has found that men who move their necks and trunks more to the beat are most likely to attract women.
British and German researchers filmed 19 men, aged 18-35, with a 3-D camera system as they danced to a basic rhythm, and then mapped their movements onto featureless, white, gender-neutral humanoid characters, or avatars.
A group of 37 heterosexual women was asked to rate the dance moves of the avatars, which gave no indication of the men's attractiveness, to help identify the key movement areas of the bodies that decided if their dancing was "good" or "bad."
"This is the first study to show objectively what differentiates a good dancer from a bad one. Men all over the world will be interested to know what moves they can throw to attract women," said psychologist Dr Nick Neave of Britain's Northumbria University in a statement.
The study, which also involved German's University of Gottingen, found that eight movement variables made the difference between a "good" and a "bad" dancer.
These were the size of movement of the neck, trunk, left shoulder and wrist, the variability of movement size of the neck, trunk and left wrist, and the speed of movement of the right knee.
The analysis was concentrated on three body regions: legs including the ankle, hip and knee, the arms with shoulder, elbow and wrist, and the central body with neck and trunk.
The study found that female perceptions of good dance quality were influenced most greatly by large and varied movements involving the neck and trunk. The speed of the right knee movements were also important in signaling dance quality.
A "good" dancer thus displays larger and more variable movements in relation to bending and twisting movements of their head/neck and torso, and faster bending and twisting movements of their right knee," the researchers said in a report published in the Royal Society Journal Biology Letters.
Neave and fellow researcher Kristofor McCarty from Northumbria's School of Life Sciences said the study was the first to identify potential biomechanical differences between "good" and "bad" male dancers.
Neave said he believed such dance movements may form honest signals of a man's reproductive quality, in terms of health, vigor or strength.
He intends to continue research to grasp the implications, but studying dancing in a natural setting is hard as it then also brings in facial attractiveness, height, clothing and socio-economic status.
"We now know which area of the body females are looking at when they are making a judgment about male dance attractiveness," he said.
"If a man knows what the key moves are, he can get some training and improve his chances of attracting a female through his dance style."
McCarty said it did seem that women appear to like and look for the same sort of moves.
"From this, we predict that those observations have underlying traits associated with them but further research must be conducted to support such claims," he said.
Editing by Dean Goodman