Do you remember those attractive faces we see hundreds of on social media? We see photos and videos of people with large groups of friends many times every day, right? They are all very happy, having a lot of fun, very beautiful and very attractive. You are right to like them because your brain is playing tricks on you

Sep 20, 2023 - 13:46
Sep 20, 2023 - 13:48
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   So, is everyone in the group as attractive as we think? 

  The answer to this question comes from a series of characters known to most people. Barney, the fun character from the TV series How I Met Your Mother, uses the term cheerleader effect to describe a woman's appearance as attractive in a group rather than individually. When his friends showed him a group of attractive women hanging out at a bar, Barney claimed it was an illusion. 


What is the cheerleader effect? 

The cheerleader effect means that a group of people - regardless of gender - look more attractive and sexy when they are together. This theory, which we can also interpret as the group attractiveness effect, argues that group members lose their attractiveness as a group when evaluated separately. This effect is a result of what we find attractive on average when we look at groups and people. Often people find 'average' faces the most attractive. Psychologists say 'average' in this sense means taking the average of many different people's faces. They don't mean average-looking people. Walker explains this situation as follows: 

 "Average faces are more attractive, probably due to the average of unattractive features." This is exactly where the cheerleader effect emerges because when we look at a group of people, we see them as a group and our brain takes the average of their facial features. The average result from here seems attractive to us. Of course, this term does not remain a set character theory and is the subject of some research, first scientifically supported by a study recently published in the journal Psychological Science (Walker & Vul, 2013). 

Drew Walker and Edward Vul from the University of California conducted an experiment in which participants were evaluated both in groups and individually. In the study, three male or three female faces were together in the same scene in group photographs. An individual portrait of each face was cropped from these group photos. Participants rated each face twice, once in a group photo and once in an individual portrait. As a result of the study, male and female faces were rated as more attractive when they appeared in group photos rather than individual portraits. These findings were consistent with the cheerleader effect. While the theory is useful in a group of friends, we can see it at many points in our lives. For example, in the field of marketing, we are exposed to it without realizing it. Examine any furniture catalog and you will see that items are often displayed in a completed room format. What concerns us here is the grouping of items. Because of the Cheerleader Effect, such catalogs or placements in stores make each item look better than it is. If you are going to choose a single seat from the catalog instead of buying the entire hall, I strongly recommend that you evaluate the seat alone, otherwise, your eyes will deceive you. 

 As a result, average faces are perceived as more attractive within the group. When individuals are examined one by one, their attractiveness within the group cannot be captured. If you want to increase your individual appeal level, it might be a good idea to be in a group photo. Walker and Vul revealed that the number of people in the group does not matter. The results were not different for faces evaluated in groups of 4, 9, or 16. The conclusion here is that even a small group of friends can be enough to increase your attractiveness. 


Walker, D., & Vul, E. (2014). Hierarchical Encoding Makes Individuals in a Group Seem More Attractive. Psychological Science, 25(1), 230–235. 


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fatmanur güçlü İsmim Fatma Nur GÜÇLÜ. Ankara Yıldırım Beyazıt Üniversitesi Psikoloji (ingilizce) 2. sınıf öğrencisiyim. Sosyal psikoloji endüstriyel psikoloji ve adli psikoloji alanları ile ilgileniyorum. Lisans eğitimimden sonra bu alanlarda çalışmalar yapmak istiyorum. Alanıma dair okumalar yapmaktan zevk alıyorum. Sayedra Psikoloji'de sosyal medya ekip koordinatörlüğü yapmaktayım. Alanımda kendimi geliştirmek ve geliştirirken deneyim kazanmak önem verdiğim şeyler arasında.