Next time someone tells you off for watching too much television, tell them you could actually be learning some serious stuff about social psychology.
For those of us that watch the hit US sit-com How I Met Your Mother, we won’t be complete strangers to the idea known as “The Cheerleader Effect”. Now, it seems, it has scientific backing. Researchers from the University of California have proven that the ideas of fictional social genius Barney Stinson may actually be scientific fact.
“The Cheerleader Effect” is the idea that a person seems more attractive, or at least, less unattractive, when placed in a group of others. This is because observers view each individual face as more average than they actually are, and that people tend to ‘average out’ the attractiveness of a group. This means people that are regularly viewed as unattractive will seem more average, and those who would regularly be seen as such would be considered more attractive.
Researcher Drew Walker pointed out that we tend to blur unattractive idiosyncrasies when perceiving a group people, something we cannot do when looking at a person individually. “Beautiful people are all alike, but every unattractive person is unattractive in their own way”. That’s something to ponder over, hey? Edward Vul, who co-authored the article, wanted to ensure that it was understood that the effect was small, but that “some of us need all the help that we can get”. What a great confidence booster.
So clearly, all of those popular kids at school might not have been as beautiful as we first thought. It was just that they traveled in flocks, protecting one another. Maybe they knew about all of this and used it against us? We may never know. Anyway, I’ll be right back, just going to upload a few photos of my mates and I onto Facebook.