Motion and Gender-Typing Features Interact in the Perception of Human Bodies

Giulia D’Argenio, Alessandra Finisguerra, Cosimo Urgesi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The human body conveys socially relevant information, including a person’s gender. Several studies have shown that both shape and motion inform gender judgments of bodies. However, while body shape seems to influence more the judgment of female bodies, body motion seems to play a major role in the judgments of male bodies. Yet, the interdependence of morphologic and dynamic cues in shaping gender judgment and attractiveness evaluation in body perception is still unclear. In two experiments, we investigated how variations of implied motion and shape interact in perceptual and affective judgments of female and male bodies. In Experiment 1, participants were asked to provide ratings for masculinity and femininity of virtual renderings of human bodies with variable gender-typing features and implied motion. We found evidence of a tendency to perceive bodies in static poses as more feminine and bodies in dynamic poses as more masculine. In Experiment 2, participants rated the same pictures for dynamism and pleasantness. We found that male bodies were judged more dynamic than female bodies with the same pose. Also, female bodies were liked more in static than in dynamic poses. A mediation analysis allowed us to further shed light on the relationship between gender-typing features and motion, suggesting that the less is the movement conveyed by a female body, the greater is an observer’s sensitivity to its femininity, and this leads to a more positive evaluation of its pleasantness. Our findings hint to an association between stillness and femininity in body perception, which can stem from either the evolutionary meaning of sexual selection and/or the influence of cultural norms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number277
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Volume14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 21 2020

Keywords

  • attractiveness
  • body aesthetic
  • body image
  • gender bias
  • gender perception
  • implied motion
  • sex categorization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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