The cheerleader effect – Do people look more attractive in groups?
The term “Cheerleader effect” was coined from the TV series “of How I Met Your Mother”. This theory is also commonly known as The Bridesmaid Paradox, Sorority Girl Syndrome, or The Spice Girl Conspiracy. It relates to the theory that people appear more attractive when they are surrounded by other people. The theory is that when a person visually takes in a group of people in one go, we tend to average out their facial features. You would have thought that in a group of “average” looking people, the more attractive people would have stood out more or been “brought” down nearer their average looking friends. This however doesn’t appear to be the case, it turns out that during the averaging of the attractiveness of the faces, we prefer their ‘new faces’ to the original because their idiosyncrasies have been averaged out. This leads to individuals with complimentary facial features such as a big or small nose or for example one person with narrow eyes and one person with wide eyes, being “merged” together. So features which may otherwise be deemed unattractive in isolation are averaged out in the group and thus becomes more attractive!
You can read more about the study that has been published in study published by Psychological Science . Their study included participants being shown pictures of 100 people and then being asked to rank their attractiveness. A participant was shown a person faces in a group and individually. Amazingly they ranked both male and female more attractive when in groups! The ranking of attractiveness however doesn’t mean there is some kind of magic trick, it still only relates to about 3-4% increase in attractiveness, though you never know it might just be enough 😉