People seem more attractive when in groups
People Seem More Attractive When In Groups. A new study suggests that people tend to be rated as more attractive when they're part of a group than when they're alone.
This phenomenon - first dubbed the "cheerleader effect" by ladykiller Barney Stinson on the popular TV show 'How I Met Your Mother' - suggests that having a few friends around might be one way to boost perceived attractiveness.
According to psychological scientists Drew Walker and Edward Vul of the University of California, San Diego, people tend to "average out" the features of faces in a group, thereby perceiving an individual's face as more average than they would be otherwise.
While being average-looking might seem like a bad thing, research suggests that's not necessarily the case for attractiveness.
"Average faces are more attractive, likely due to the averaging out of unattractive idiosyncrasies," Walker said.
"Perhaps it's like Tolstoy's families: Beautiful people are all alike, but every unattractive person is unattractive in their own way," he said.
Walker and Vul suspected that the attractiveness of average faces, coupled with the tendency to encode groups of objects as an "ensemble," might actually support the cheerleader effect.
The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
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