Scientists at Northumbria University used motion-capture technology to record the movements of young women dancing to a drum beat.
Their movement patterns were then rendered as 39 computer avatars – removing all their physical features – before 200 people watched 15-second clips and rated their dance moves.
The study, published in the Scientific Reports journal, identified that those getting higher scores for their dancing exhibited three types of movement when they strutted their stuff – greater hip swing, more asymmetric movements of the thighs and intermediate levels of arm movement.
He told The New York Times: “One is, they’re showing off their reproductive quality, perhaps their hormonal status, to males.
“Another is, they’re showing off how good they are to female rivals.
“When you look at males and females walking, the key difference is, males have this shoulder swing and females have this hip swing.”
He added that asymmetric limb movements could also signal good motor control.