A new study has found that people appear more attractive in group settings than they do alone. Yup, the so-called cheerleader effect (as proposed by How I Met Your Mother‘s Barney) is an actual, empirically verifiable thing. Science!
But why? Blame your brain, useless hunk of skull Jell-O that it is. When confronted by a group of people, your visual system creates “ensemble representations” that blend their features. We’re instinctively drawn to “average” faces, possibly because – in evolutionary terms – they indicate that a potential mate is not a horrifying mutant who crawled out of our nightmares. Lo and behold, the average group face your neurons have Photoshopped for you is more appealing than the group’s individual faces.
Keep the cheerleader effect in mind, singles, and do your hunting in packs. Should that fail, carry pom-poms and practice assembling a human pyramid. It couldn’t hurt.
Image via Veer