10 September 2010
British people are frequently embarrassed by their fathers' dancing, so the term 'dad dancing' now means bad moves on the dance floor. Scientists at Northumbria University have analysed what makes dancing attractive to women.
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The researchers asked young men to dance in a laboratory to a very basic drum rhythm. Their dances were played back to a group of women who rated them on a scale of one to seven.
The researchers had expected that the movement of arms, legs and hands would be important as they can often convey expressive gestures.
But instead they found that there was a greater focus on the torso, neck and the head. And higher ratings were given for variation and mixing up dance moves. What went down badly though were twitchy and repetitive movements – often called 'dad dancing'.
The researchers also found from blood tests on the dancers that those who had good moves were in better physical condition.
And so, as is the case with courtship rituals with wild animals, dancing ability may well be a way of assessing a suitable mate.
Pallab Ghosh, BBC science correspondent
Click to hear the vocabulary
the main part of the body, not including the head, arms or legs
- mixing up
- went down badly
was thought bad
sudden and nervous
- physical condition
- courtship rituals
actions and ceremonies that attract a male or female to have babies
- suitable mate
good partner to have babies