The Cheerleader Effect Says You Appear More Attractive When You're With A Group

A theory first proposed by a sitcom character was scientifically verified in 2013. The "Cheerleader Effect" was first introduced by Barney Stinson, the legendary womanizer on the show How I Met Your Mother, as he explained to his friends that while a group of women at a bar looked attractive, each girl, individually, was not. Though originally scripted as another one of Stinson's misogynistic "rules," a study published in the journal Psychological Science, bears it out. In the study, participants were presented with pictures of 100 different people and asked to rate them on their level of attractiveness. The individuals in the photo, regardless of gender, were rated as more attractive when they were pictured as part of a group. "Being seen in a group confers an attractiveness benefit that's roughly enough to bump someone from the 49th percentile to the 51st percentile of attractiveness," according to a press release from the Association for Psychological Science. Drew Walker and Edward Vul, the University of California, San Diego scientists who authored the study, explained that when featured as part of a group, individual features "average out." And when it comes to looks, that "average" description is a positive one, they say. "Average faces are more attractive, likely due to the averaging out of unattractive idiosyncrasies," Walker said. Learn more about the science of attraction with the videos below.

Why Do People Seem Better Looking In Groups?

A scientific argument for the wing man.

How Does Smell Impact Attraction?

Your genes may be the reason you love your partner's smell.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Animals use major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins to find a mate and research is showing that humans might as well. 00:30

  2. A 1995 study showed that women prefer people with a particular MHC scent. 01:03

  3. The scents with a person's own MHCs mixed in trigger a response in one area of the brain and different MHCs trigger another. 01:29

How Alcohol Effects Attractiveness

Research indicates you appear most attractive after you've had one drink.

Written by Curiosity Staff September 8, 2016

Curiosity uses cookies to improve site performance, for analytics and for advertising. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies, our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.