In romantic comedies, there’s always the less glossy friend, sometimes married, usually fatter, yet always there to offer support and wingman (or wingwoman) services to the lead. The wingman performs the essential role of helping the lead get a number and a date. In real life, though, does this actually work — can a wingman help a friend seal the deal? This AsapScience video answers the question, while providing bite-size bits of research for you to chew on at your leisure.

The most intriguing of the studies cited in the video is that people seem more attractive in a group than they do on their own. As explained, the University of California, San Diego researchers had participants evaluate pictures of 300 people only to find that faces were significantly more attractive when shown in a group photo than when pictured alone. The research team referred to this phenomenon as the “cheerleader effect.”

The researchers, Drew Walker and Edward Vul, explained the cheerleader effect as arising from combined mental processes, including the fact that our perception of an individual is influenced by our impression of a group as a whole. Whether muffins, pencils, or faces in a crowd, on its own the item is perceived (and remembered) as being more like the entire collection than it actually is (when examined closely).  Essentially, we form an impression of the whole, which we then apply to the individual.

In wingman terms, then, the cheerleader effect helps you create a better impression whenever you are out with a friend than alone. Never underestimate the power of friends.