Science has confirmed what we have wanted to believe all along: Cheerleaders are not the construction of flawless DNA but are mere figments of our imagination. Well, kinda. In new research unveiled today by Scientific American, it is revealed that faces in groups appear more attractive. This is known as the ‘Cheerleader Effect’: When you are seen in a group shot with friends, it only conveys the idea that you’re amiable and well-liked, but actually takes you a few steps closer to a 10.
Drew Walker and Edward Vul at the University of California, San Diego invoke the Laker girls and Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders as examples. Bona fide babes on their own, they’re probably not the sort of girls constantly getting side-swiped on Tinder. But when any one cheerleader appears with her team, visual illusion kicks in and BAM! Head prefect/quiche betch material.
To test this theory, Walker and Vul conducted a series of experiments in which participants rated the attractiveness of faces that appeared in a group or individually. Surprisingly, attractiveness ratings did not differ for faces rated in groups of 4, 9, or 16 — though the effect disappears when the group array consists of the same face multiple times, suggesting that it it’s the averaging of many different faces that produces the effect.
So while it’s not advised to bring a gaggle of girlfriends along to your next IRL OK Cupid date, consider keeping the Cheerleader Effect in mind when updating your profile picture. And pass this information along to any serial abusers of the #selfie.