Head tilt and allure, with Danielle Sulikowski. 20 Oct 2015

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 Rob 4 Comments

Head posture: Does tilting your noggin like a bobble-head doll make you more or less alluring? I talk to Danielle Sulikowski.

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Does tilting her head make this woman more attractive? Or does she just look like her bonce is about to snap off at the hinge?

The articles covered in the show:

Burke, D., & Sulikowski, D. (2010). A new viewpoint on the evolution of sexually dimorphic human faces. Evolutionary Psychology, 8(4), 147470491000800404. Read summary

Sulikowski, D., Burke, D., Havlíček, J., & Roberts, S. C. (in press). Head tilt and fertility contribute to different aspects of female facial attractiveness. Ethology. Read summary


  1. Great show, Danielle and Rob. :-)

    I did have a question about a possible trigger for head-tilt behaviour, and how the possibility could be tested. (Because I'm a big geek that way.)

    I got the impression that head-tilting is more of a context thing - i.e., a woman will tend to consciously or unconsciously head-tilt when she's interacting with someone she finds attractive, regardless of her menstrual state.

    To test for this, could the original experiment you referred to in "Head Tilt and Fertility Contribute to Different Aspects of Female Facial Attractiveness" be modified as follows:

    - have both a male and female take the photographs of the participants
    - Have participants interviewed after the photography session to see if the participant reported whether or not she found either the female or male photographer attractive
    - Examine results to see if head-tilting behaviour correlated with these reports

    Let me know when you have the chance, and keep up the great work,


  2. Thanks, Rob.

    It's a good point. We do know from previous research that people can vary in their appearance in photographs if they are photographed by a man or a woman (I believe the study was about facial temperature -- not specifically blushing, but similar).

    I can't recall if Dani and I talked about it in the final edit (I may have cut this portion of the conversation because I got the name of the lead author wrong), but we also know that women who are in the fertile phase flirt more with men they find attractive. So these things can interact with one another.

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I really enjoyed listening to it. I notice you don't refer to sideways tilting, just forwards and backwards. Your photo at the top of this page is a sideways tilt. Would you mind joining the dots for me? What is the significance of a sideways tilt?

  4. Thanks for your comment.

    This episode is from a while ago, so I can't recall whether Danielle looked at pitch, roll, or yaw: the three types of rotation. I think did see a paper a number of years ago that showed that roll (the sideways tilt in the image above) is associated with submissiveness, although I don't think they looked at attractiveness in that paper. Frankly, it's an understudied area and Dani is the only person really looking at tilt and attraction.


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