The Link Between Walking Style And Aggression

A new study from the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom, confirms how aggressive we are, can be identified by the way we walk. The research conducted on the personalities of 29 participants shows potential relationship between an individual’s biological motion (thorax and pelvis movements, and speed of gait), and their intention to engage in aggression-linked crime.

Mr. Liam Satchell, of the Department of Psychology at the University of Portsmouth, explains how an exaggerated movement of both the upper and lower body indicates intention to engage in aggressive behavior:

When walking, the body naturally rotates a little; as an individual steps forward with their left foot, the left side of the pelvis will move forward with the leg, the left shoulder will move back and the right shoulder forward to maintain balance. An aggressive walk is one where this rotation is exaggerated.”

The researchers employed the use of motion capture technology, to record the participants walking at their natural speed on a treadmill. A standard personality test called the ‘big five’ was also used to assess their personality traits including openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. All these helped the researchers in mapping the way the participants think, feel and behave.

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While further confirming how movement manifests personality, the team point out that it “would be beneficial if there were cues to an approaching stranger’s inclination to aggression in their gait.”

We know of no other examples of research where gait has been shown to correlate with self-reported measures of personality and suggest that more research should be conducted between automatic movement and personality, Mr Satchell said.

Satchell and colleagues however emphasize on how understanding the relationship between individual’s biological motion and their intention to engage in aggression could help prevent crime.

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