The Cheerleader Effect, sometime referred to as the group attractiveness effect, is a cognitive bias which makes people appear more attractive when they are in a group. This may be due to our asymmetries and disproportionalities appearing to average out among a group of faces which makes our unusual features look a little less odd.
It is likely the cheerleader effect is the result of similar cognitive and perceptual processes that are behind the Ebbinghaus illusion and the moon illusion. The Ebbinghaus illusion refers to how a medium-sized dot looks much larger when surrounded by small dots, and conversely looks much smaller when adjacent to lots of larger dots.
The moon illusion relates to how the moon looks larger when it appears on the horizon compared to up high in the sky. All these illusions demonstrate how what we see is dependent upon both the physical object as interpreted by our visual systems and a combination of contextual data, expectations and existing knowledge.
Research by David Walker and Edward Vul published in the journal Psychological Science (2013) was based upon five experiments where participants rated the attractiveness of people in photographs. People were either pictured alone or in groups, though some of the “groups” were collages of people alone.
In all cases, for both men and women, respondents rated people in groups higher in their attractiveness than those who were shown alone. The effect was not dependent upon the number of people in the group and it was equally present for men and women.
The cheerleader effect suggests safety in numbers is a good strategy for attracting a date and optimising dating apps. For apps like Tinder a picture of a number of faces is likely to be more appealing than a single face. Given that beauty also varies according to culture dating apps have double the reason to use the cheerleader effect to improve conversion.
It is also likely to apply for testimonials. Don’t show a single testimonial on its own; always display groups of testimonials to benefit from the cheerleader effect. On your about us page display pictures of teams rather than individuals. You don’t have to use stock photos as the Cheerleader effect will enhance the attractiveness of everyone in the photograph.
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