Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Effects of Bowing on Perception of Attractiveness

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Effects of Bowing on Perception of Attractiveness

Article excerpt

Published online: 27 March 2015

# The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2015

Abstract Bowing is a greeting behavior. The present study examined the modulation effect of bowing on perception of attractiveness. In each trial, a portrait digitized from university yearbooks was presented on a computer screen. The portrait was mildly tilted 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 relative to that of the bending-backward or standing-still control conditions (Experiment 1). Additional control experiments revealed that alternative accounts relying on apparent spatial proximity and physical characteristics could not solely explain the effect of bowing (Experiment 2) and indicated that the effect was specific to objects perceived as faces (Experiment 3). Furthermore, observers' in-return bowing behavior did not reduce the bowing effect (Experiment 4), and bowing motion increased the ratings of subjective politeness and submissiveness (Experiment 5). Finally, tilting the 3D faces elicited the same effect from observers as did tilting the still photos (Experiment 6). These results suggest that a tilting motion of portraits (or images of face-like objects) mimicking bowing enhances perceived attractiveness, at least as measured in a culture familiar with greeting by bowing.

Keywords Facial attractiveness . Bowing motion . Greeting behavior . Pareidolia

Greeting is an act of human communication between individuals encountering each other and plays a critical role forming first impressions. For example, shaking hands, a prevalent greeting behavior used in Western cultures, reflects personality traits and is related to the hiring recommendations made by interviewers (Chaplin, Phillips, Brown, Clanton, & Stein, 2000; Stewart, Dustin, Barrick, & Darnold, 2008). Bowing is another type of greeting behavior commonly used in East Asia; it is used instead of shaking hands when people meet or depart. East Asian people generally believe that bowing contributes substantially to the establishment of a positive first impression; thus many (particularly Japanese) businesses introduce specific training programs for newly recruited employees that start with learning how to bow to customers and seniors. Given that shaking hands has an impact on impression formation in Western cultures (Chaplin et al., 2000; Stewart et al., 2008), we would expect bowing to have a similar effect in East Asian cultures. However, little is known about the relationship between bowing and impression formation.

In the present study, we focused on the effect of bowing on perceptions of attractiveness, because perceived attractiveness has been shown to affect a wide range of decisions involving social selection, such as mate choices (Buss & Barns, 1986), hiring decisions (Cash & Kilcullen, 1985), and judgments about the seriousness of crimes (Sigall & Ostrove, 1975). Furthermore, people in some cultures (e.g., the Japanese) routinely bow as a way of behaving in a socially appropriate manner in interactions with other people. Thus, we speculated that bowing directed toward appropriate targets on appropriate occasions would increase positive reactions to the bower and increase his/her chances of being selected. Studies regarding facial attractiveness have traditionally focused on the physical characteristics of faces, such as symmetry (Møller & Thornhill, 1998), averageness (Langlois & Roggman 1990), and sexual dimorphism (Andersson, 1994). Recent studies have demonstrated that social cues, such as shifts in gaze (Mason, Tatkow, & Macrae, 2005;Kampe,Frith,Dolan,& Frith, 2001; Conway, Jones, DeBruine, & Little, 2008), facial expressions (Reis et al., 1990), and head orientation (Kampe et al., 2001) affect the perception of physical attractiveness. …

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