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Squad Goals! Why Attractiveness is a Team Sport

April 14th, 2017 No comments


From time to time, science puts its nerdy inquiries on hold and answers pressing questions. One such universal concern is attractiveness. Recent research in psychology is looking at how being part of a group affects how others see you. Can walking around in a group make you more attractive? Can you figure out how attractive a group is by averaging the attractiveness scores of each member? Thankfully, cognitive psychology is here to shed light on these mysteries.

The namesake:

The Biases


The Cheerleader Effect is the tendency for individuals in groups to be rated as more attractive than if their photo were seen by itself (Walker and Vul, 2013). Let’s say that when people see Benjamin by himself, he is typically a 6 out of 10 on the attractiveness scale. The Cheerleader Effect is the tendency for Benjamin to be a 6.20 when he is seen next to three other people. In the Cheerleader Effect, the size of the group is not important. The benefit of being in a group of 4 people is similar to that of being in a group of 16 people. If you want more information on how Walker and Vul went about finding this bias, check out  this blog post on the CogBlog. 


The Group-Attractiveness Effect has two meanings. The GA Effect could refer to the Cheerleader Effect, or it could refer to the tendency for people’s assessment of the average attractiveness of a group to be higher than the average attractiveness of each member when they are by themselves (van Osch, et al., 2015). If you’re not a math professor, this means that when Aisha (8), Eduardo (8), Aiko (8) and Sam (8) go out to town, people may rate the average attractiveness of their squad as higher than an 8.


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