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Effects of bowing on perception of attractiveness

56.552, Tuesday, 20-May, 2:45 pm - 6:45 pm, Pavilion
Session: Face perception: Social cognition

Jun Kawahara1, Takayuki Osugi2; 1Chukyo University, 2University of Tokyo

Greeting is an act of human communication between individuals coming into contact with each other. The present study focused on bowing as a greeting behavior and examined its modulating effects on perception of attractiveness. We found slight tilting motion of portraits, simulating bowing enhanced perceived attractiveness. In each trial, a portrait digitized from university yearbooks was presented on a computer screen. The portrait could gently tilt toward participants to simulate a greeting bow (25 degree angle). Participants evaluated the subjective attractiveness of the face using a visual analog scale (0-100). The mean attractiveness judgment of the bowing portrait was significantly higher than ratings of the portrait bending backwards or remaining upright, as control conditions. Additional control experiments revealed that alternative effects relying on apparent spatial proximity, physical characteristics, and relative social standing could not solely explain the effect of bowing, and indicated that the effect was specific to objects perceived as faces. Specifically, sliding the bottom side of the portrait toward or away from participants did not affect the attractiveness rating. No difference in rating scores was found between the static (bending toward or backward and upright face) images. The bowing motion did not improve the ratings of inverted faces and non-face meaningless drawings. The bowing motion did enhance the attractiveness of pareidolia objects, such as a picture of an electrical outlet. Finally, observersÂ’ in-return bowing behavior did not reduce the bowing effect, indicating that the effect is not attributable to relative enhancement of social standing of the observers who did not bow in the original experiment. These results suggest that a tilting motion of portraits of faces (or face-like objects) mimicking bowing enhances physical attractiveness, at least as measured in a culture familiar with greeting by bowing.

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