How I Met Your Mother Cheerleader Effect Proved

Hit US sitcom 'How I Met Your Mother' has been proved correct by a scientific theory that says people are more attractive when they are in a group.

A character in the show Barney Stinson, played by Neil Patrick Harris, proposes the "Cheerleader Effect", whereby people are deemed to increase in sex appeal while surrounded by a group.

The Journal Of Psychological Science said, "The visual system automatically computes ensemble representations of faces presented in a group."

Basically this means that when we see a group of other people we tend to average out what they look like, meaning that everyone then becomes a little more "normal" looking, with our brain effectively removing certain distinctions, like a feature that would make someone more or less attractive had they been alone.

100 people were shown pictures of 100 other people for the study, some of them in groups, others individually and asked to rate them according to how attractive they thought they were. And wouldn't you know it, horn-dog Barney's theory held strong and the people in groups were graded an average of 2% higher.

Some fit cheerleaders

Well great news! As I said above, certain things are balanced out by the brain, but oh wait, there's more! For all us folks of a distinctly average facial disposition, at least. Whether you are surrounded by your friends or not makes no difference. As a general rule, we are more drawn to average looking people because they seem more approachable, more akin to us. So the more average you look, the more attractive you are seen in a group. You become "the hot one"!

This fantastic study is useful in so many ways. For one thing, it proves what we knew all along - that Barney is a genius and not just a sex machine - but also gives all us plain faced folk a way to make ourselves feel better around our "more attractive mates". How much of a confidence booster is it going to be now to know, while standing awkwardly amid your stunning friends, that everyone looking at you is actually seeing you all the same, and that in fact, you are being seen as 2% better looking than if you had been on your lonesome.

So be proud of your sticky out ears, your frizzy hair and your glass eye. Go stand in a crowd and know you are being looked at by the likes of Barney Stinson and knowing they are seeing you as a damn fine looking human being.

Score for not having to try so hard anymore!

Here's a video to explain some more. 

Words by Gemma Clark