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What is The Cheerleader Effect: Do You Look Better Around Others?

When you hear the phrase, “cheerleader effect,” do you think of cartwheels and handstands? Well, it is a little more complicated than that.

cheerleader effect

Cheerleaders are known to be the golden girls—and boys—of every athletic half-time show, but they’re also believed to be the most popular and attractive individuals in high school. At least that’s the stereotype. For that reason, the phrase “cheerleader effect” was coined. But it’s not what you think.

The effect is not something that gives you super flexibility, bouncy locks, or a peppy attitude. The cheerleader effect has a more sinister connotation—depending on how you look at it. [Read: How do you see yourself?]

What is the cheerleader effect?

In scientific terms, the cheerleader effect is what you call “hierarchical encoding.” Drew Walker and Eward Vul from the Department of Psychology at the University of California, San Diego, tested a theory to see if people found individuals more attractive when placed in a group.

They conducted five experiments wherein they made the subjects rate the attractiveness of people in photographs. They showed them a single photo and then showed the same photo while in a group or, for this experiment, a collage.

All the results lead back to the subjects thinking that the grouped people in the photos were more attractive than those who stood alone. The researchers seem to think that people are more attractive in groups because their physical attributes average out. The flaws of one person won’t have much weight when placed side-by-side with other people’s flaws.

There are no known experiments or at least documentation of any that describe the cheerleader effect in real-life settings, but many agree that they find people in groups attractive. So, why is this happening? Why are people considered less attractive while alone than in a group? [Read: 5 ways to see yourself in a better light]

Why does the cheerleader effect exist?

Each person has a different perception of what beauty and attractiveness are. That being said, you can rest easy knowing that what attracts us to other people is, in fact, a strange physical quirk. A ski-slope nose? Not everyone has that, so it’s a quirk. Norse god proportions *ahem, Chris Hemsworth*? Again, not everyone possesses those, so that we can chalk it off as a quirk.

When you mesh those quirks with a group of other people’s quirks, the attractiveness factor evens out. This means that the flaws, which are not the quirks, are less noticeable because the number of people in the group makes it difficult for others to see the flaws you’re so insecure about.

What does this mean for you?

Are you really less attractive when you’re alone? The answer: Of course not! We’re talking about outside perception here. This is based on how strangers perceive you. It really has no bearing on who you are as a person.

You’re as attractive as you perceive yourself to be, so rounding up your friends daily isn’t necessarily the best option to boost your self-esteem. The cheerleader effect in photos may just help with comparisons and such. But, in real life, being in a group makes you more attractive for others reasons.

Consider this… you’re at a bar alone. you are self-conscious or fidgety. But, if you’re at a bar with your friends you are laughing and enjoying yourself. Automatically, that change in demeanor would make you seem more attractive because your confidence level is higher.

So, in terms of dating, is possible that you can use this information to your advantage? [Read: 16 exciting ways to meet new people]

The key to your dating problems?

Taking your friends out under the guise of a girls’ or boys’ night out might backfire if you’re only in it to find a date for yourself. The cheerleader effect is not something that you can initiate on a whim. It’s a natural occurrence, not a plan.

No matter who you’re with, the cheerleader effect occurs because being with a group of people makes it difficult for others to assess your individual traits by just one look.

It’s not a way for you to put down your less attractive friends, nor is it a way to increase your chances of finding a date by hanging out with highly attractive people. It is really a way to show off your personality, confidence, and social cues more successfully than being alone.

You are literally just a face in the crowd—which is not a bad thing at all. The competition in terms of physical appearance evens out, and it takes the pressure off of trying to impress possible dates while sitting at a bar alone.

The cheerleader effect gives you an advantage when attempting to attract possible suitors while also giving you much-needed support you can only get from your friends. [Read: How to find the right person when it seems hopeless]

How to use the cheerleader effect to find a suitable date

Basically, the formula is this: you look more attractive when you’re out with your friends.

But attracting someone is not a done deal. You’re simply more attractive than you would have been had you been alone. That’s not even saying much, considering everyone can attract someone at some point in their lives.

So how can you attract a suitable mate using the cheerleader effect, aside from already being hotter than you are when you are alone?

1. Don’t think too much about it

The cheerleader effect will happen when it happens. Setting yourself up with friends who you think are less attractive than you is cruel and an undeniable reflection of who you are. Don’t do it. Putting down your friends, albeit subtly, is never a good way to attract possible dates.

2. Stop noticing how other people look at you

Even if you do seem more attractive with the cheerleader effect, other factors are still in play. If you look uncomfortable or antsy because you’re waiting for someone to notice you, it’s doubtful that someone will think you’re cute. Flaws are okay, but insecurity is unattractive.

Just have fun while you’re out with friends and you’ll be more likely to attract someone than if you are concerned with attracting people. [Read: 13 physical attraction tips to look way hotter in public]

3. Enjoy your time with your friends

To follow through with items number one and two, you need to remember why you’re out and who you’re with. You’re here to spend time with friends while also putting yourself out there where possible suitors and new friends can see you. However, the main thing is that you need to enjoy yourself, so you won’t be bothered by the idea that someone may or may not be interested in you.

4. Revel in your newfound confidence

Knowing you look attractive takes you one step closer to being your best self. The key to attracting someone is confidence enough in your own skin. Men and women are more attracted to confident people, regardless of their appearance. So, with the cheerleader effect in place, a matching aura of confidence will *most likely* seal the deal for a budding romance. [Read: 10 subtle body language moves to appear more confident]

5. Let someone else have a go at it

The cheerleader effect is not just for you. It’s for every person you decided to go out with. You’re not the only one that looks awesome tonight, which means that some of your friends might also get a chance at love. If someone else gets a date first, don’t be bummed about it. Celebrate the fact that the cheerleader effect is working and that it’ll be your turn soon.

6. Entertain your new suitors but don’t rely on your first impression toward each other

Not everyone who approaches you is a stellar guy/girl. Remember that they probably based their decision on physical appearance alone, so it’s best to take some time to get to know them better before deciding to start a relationship. don’t judge them by the fact that they just think you’re attractive. No one knows each other immediately. [Read: 7 conversation starters when talking to strangers]

7. Don’t forget your friends

Once someone approaches you, don’t just leave your friends hanging. It wouldn’t hurt for you and your new suitor to have a few more drinks with your friends instead of just rushing out to get to know each other a little better. This can also be a great way to show off your confidence. Interacting as a group will relax you.

8. Remember: however you were perceived at first glance, they will remember your first meeting

The cheerleader effect lasts only as long as you’re in a group, but don’t fret. The way your date saw you that night with your friends is how they will remember it for the rest of their lives. That’s how you’ve always looked, anyway; the cheerleader effect just helped you get a leg up in a huge sea of other single and potential “cheerleaders.”

[Read: 10 easy moves to look fabulous while trying to get attention]

The cheerleader effect is a scientifically backed phenomenon. Rather than lamenting its implications, use these tips to make the cheerleader effect work for you, and find your happily ever after.

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The editorial team of LovePanky comprises relationship experts and real-life experts that share their experiences and life lessons. If you want the best love ad...