If we see a man walking into a bar swaggering like John Wayne, we could assume that he is a self-confident person, a "tough guy". In fact, we cannot help but draw conclusions about the personality based on small signals such as the way of walking. It's not even a bad thing, it's a strategy we subconsciously use to know if we are safe or in danger. In practice, our senses constantly monitor the small clues that others send to send them to the brain to conclude whether it is a friend or an enemy, this process is the basis of the formation of the first impression.
One of the first research on walking and personality dates back to 1935. German psychologist Werner Wolff filmed five men and three women without their knowledge. All wore a raincoat to prevent those who saw the video from drawing conclusions from the clothes, the images were also modified by eliminating people's heads.
Later the researchers asked a group of volunteers to view the video and try to imagine the personalities of the walkers. The psychologist discovered in this way that the participants had easily formed impressions of others based on the way they walked, and even more interesting: these often coincided with their judgments.
For example, some people described one of the walkers with phrases such as "pretentious and baseless", "someone who wants to attract attention at any cost", "a conceited person who wants to be admired" and "an inwardly insecure person who seeks to appear confident in front of others ".
It is certainly surprising that the participants formed such similar impressions.
What do the swaying hips mean?In recent years, more sophisticated experiments have been carried out using digital technology, so that a person's way of walking is transformed into a series of moving dots on the screen, eliminating any additional signals that can give us clues to his personality. Using this approach, a group of American psychologists discovered in the late 80s that there are basically two ways of walking: a younger and an older way of moving. The "young" movement involves a more lively rhythm, swaying hips, large arm movements and longer strides, while the "old" involves more rigid and slow movements with a greater forward lean.
But the interesting thing is that these ways of walking don't necessarily match the person's actual age. Outside observers found that people who walked in a younger style were happier and more confident, an idea that remained even when they were shown their faces and bodies.
This research once again demonstrates how quickly we judge others based on how they walk, although this study did not prove these hypotheses to be true. To do this, we must turn to another recently published study, in which personality traits were compared with the assumptions that people made based solely on the way they walk.
The results suggest once again that there are two styles, an expansive and loose one related to an adventurous spirit, extroversion, reliability and warmth; while the other style was slow and relaxed, and was interpreted as a sign of emotional balance. However, the surprise came later, because these characteristics did not accurately describe people.Therefore, the psychologists concluded that we are better judges based on the faces and the way of dressing, but we can draw the wrong conclusions we only consider the way of walking without having more details of the person.
The way you walk can increase the risk of them being attacked
In psychology, things are never black or white. In real life, we don't see a series of dots on the computer that mimic the shape of walking but we see the person as a whole. Therefore, other studies indicated that some people are able to detect a person's vulnerability by the way they walk. The "vulnerable" style is characterized by a shorter stride, limited arm swing and slow walking. In fact, it has been noted that psychopaths are particularly good at identifying people who have suffered from assaults in the past simply by looking at how they walk down a corridor.
It appears that inmates are particularly capable of developing this skill and that many men use it to identify women with more vulnerable personality traits, such as introversion and emotional instability. In fact, some research suggests that when women feel unsafe in some places they tend to take longer strides, walk faster, and move their arms more boldly.
Therefore, the way you walk can reveal some clues about your personality. However, attributing certain personality traits to a person based only on his way of walking can give us a very distorted perspective by making us develop stereotypes that do not exactly correspond to reality.