Static & Dynamic – or is it Static vs. Dynamic?
Most beauty research is done using static stimuli: static photographic images are used rather than, for example, dynamic video depictions. Since most real-world interactions with others do not involve static presentations, it is important to know how similar these two types of attractiveness ratings typically are.
Roberts, et.al. (2009) have recently reported finding a positive correlation between attractiveness ratings of static images (neutral photographs) and dynamic images (video recordings). Only a small number of studies have looked at this relationship, with mixed results:
A review of this table shows inconsistent findings in between subjects designs. The Roberts, et.al. study is the first to date to use a within subject design to examine this relationship. The table below shows the various correlations between ratings of static and dynamic stimuli utilizing a within subject design. As you can clearly see, there are strong correlations in this data set.
- The use of a novel design for exploring this research question.
- Stimuli and raters were from college student samples
- As the authors acknowledge, within subject designs – which involve repeated measures – are subject to carry-over effects (the alteration in the rating of the second stimulus (e.g., the video recording) that is a result of having seen the first stimulus (e.g., the neutral photograph).
- The nature of the task performed for the video recording can have an effect on the correlation. In this study, correlations were stronger between the static image and the dynamic images when the stimuli involved a hypothetical self-introduction in a bar setting than when the topic of the dynamic recording was a recent holiday.
In defense of the common use of static imagery in beauty research it should be emphasized that static depictions enable better control over extraneous variables and enable clearer comparisons of the influence of purely structural bodily/facial characteristics.
Roberts, S., Saxton, T., Murray, A., Burriss, R., Rowland, H., & Little, A. (2009). Static and Dynamic Facial Images Cue Similar Attractiveness Judgements Ethology, 115 (6), 588-595 DOI: 10.1111/j.1439-0310.2009.01640.x