A SEXY walk is as important as a woman’s body shape in making her attractive, according to new research.
The study by University of Portsmouth evolutionary psychologist Dr Ed Morrison is the first to compare women’s body movement to conventional measures of body shape attractiveness, including body mass index and a small waist compared with hips.
Dr Morrison said: ‘A combination of small waist, rounded hips and bottom, and a slim figure have long been reported to be important in women’s attractiveness, but it turns out the way a woman moves is as important.
‘Most previous research into what makes a body attractive has relied on photographs, but in real life we usually see a potential mate moving. ‘Motion is also crucial in courtship behaviours like dancing.
‘Research shows that we are more likely to find a woman attractive if she wiggles her hips and takes small steps.
‘Because body shape preferences vary across cultures and through history, the study aimed to find out if you take away the face, what sort of clues would people use to gauge attractiveness.
‘Motion capture allows us to isolate movement from body shape and compare the relative importance of the two.’
A total of 37 women with a range of body types, and all wearing leggings and t-shirts, were filmed walking on a treadmill at a steady pace.
Reflective markers were placed on their ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, wrists, in the middle of their forehead, on their clavicles and on their navel.
The footage was then stripped of all features except the points of light and cut to 10-second clips which were graded by 14 women and 11 men from one (very unattractive) to seven (very attractive).
A further 50 volunteers were asked to rate the same women in photographs or in film footage.
The results of all three tests found that women with a body mass index of 19-23 were judged to be the most attractive, along with women with smaller waist to hip ratio, or hourglass shape.
Dr Morrison added: ‘The results suggested that movement is as important as static measurements in gauging attractiveness, which was surprising because everyday experience suggests you can see easily how attractive someone is from a photograph.
‘I’m not sure why a particular walking style is considered attractive but gait might be giving away important clues to a woman’s fitness and age – key components of reproductive health.’
He added that further research was needed to find out whether the role of movement varied between cultures and whether attractiveness in motion could be faked.
Dr Morrison said: ‘It would be interesting to test if people can actively change their movement to attract or deter mates.
‘Using such knowledge is similar in evolutionary psychology terms to a woman wearing red lipstick or eyeliner, both of which directly mimic signals of fertility, youth or health.’