Evolutionary Psychological Science

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 147–148 | Cite as

Why Did Dance Evolve? A Comment on Laland, Wilkins, and Clayton (2016)

  • Bernhard FinkEmail author
  • Todd K. Shackelford
Theoretical Article


Human dance may have originated from selection to display quality in courtship. This proposal is based on comparative investigation of variation in motor skills in relation to mate preference and selection. However, scholars have also proposed that dance has evolved as a by-product of imitative proficiency. In this view, imitative proficiency plays a central role in dance learning and performance and facilitates movement synchronization among dancers and thus social bonding. Here we comment on a recent paper (Laland et al. in Current Biology, 26, R5–R9, 2016), which favors the latter perspective. We suggest that social bonding through dance has evolved in consequence of the adaptive problem of assessing mate qualities and other social information from body movement. This information may then have been used in strengthening social cohesion.


Dance Adaptation Imitative proficiency Motor skills Mate selection Courtship 


  1. Buss, D. M., & Schmitt, D. P. (1993). Sexual Strategies Theory: An evolutionary perspective on human mating. Psychological Review, 100, 204–232.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Byers, J. A., Hebets, E., & Podos, J. (2010). Female mate choice based upon male motor performance. Animal Behavior, 79, 771–778.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Fink, B., Weege, B., Neave, N., Ried, B., & do Lago, O. C. (2014). Female perception of male body movement. In V. A. Weekes-Shackelford & T. K. Shackelford (Eds.), Evolutionary perspectives on human sexuality and behavior (pp. 299–324). New York: Springer Business-Media.Google Scholar
  4. Fink, B., Weege, B., Neave, N., Pham, M. N., & Shackelford, T. K. (2015). Integrating body movement into attractiveness research. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 220.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Fink, B., André, S., Mines, J.S., Weege, B., Shackelford, T.K., & Butovskaya, M. (in press). Sex difference in attractiveness perceptions of strong and weak male walkers. American Journal of Human Biology.Google Scholar
  6. Hanna, J. L. (2010). Dance and sexuality: many moves. Journal of Sex Research, 47, 212–241.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Laland, K., Wilkins, C., & Clayton, N. (2016). The evolution of dance. Current Biology, 26, R5–R9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Neave, N., McCarty, K., Freynik, J., Caplan, N., Hönekopp, J., & Fink, B. (2011). Male dance moves that catch a woman’s eye. Biology Letters, 7, 221–224.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Sell, A., Hone, L. S., & Pound, N. (2012). The importance of physical strength to human males. Human Nature, 23, 30–44.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Weege, B., Pham, M. N., Shackelford, T. K., & Fink, B. (2015). Physical strength and dance attractiveness: further evidence for an association in men, but not in women. American Journal of Human Biology, 27, 728–730.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of PsychologyUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyOakland UniversityRochesterUSA

Personalised recommendations