Most teenage guys go through a “gangster” phase where they adopt an intimidating walk and swagger! While most of this strutting just comes across as amusing to adults, researchers from the Department of Psychology at the University of Portsmouth have found that there is a link between how aggressive a person is and the way in which he walks.
The researchers led by Liam Satchell assessed the personalities of participants where they completed a questionnaire to measure their levels of aggression. They also used a standard personality test to determine the other personality traits of the participants, including openness, conscientiousness, and agreeableness. The combination of these tests helped researchers map the thoughts, emotions, and behavior of each of the participants. The researchers then used motion capture technology to record individuals while they walked on a treadmill at their natural speed. Through motion capture technology, the researchers were able to make 3D computer animations of the participants so that their gait could be studied along with the movements of their thorax and pelvis.
The study showed that exaggerated movement of the upper and lower body indicated aggression. Liam Satchell, the lead researcher on this project explained this by saying, “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.”
Preening and posturing is common throughout the animal kingdom and its role in the mating process has been studied in detail. However, this is the first time that researchers have studied the relationship between swagger and psychology in humans. The results of this test confirms that aggression is indeed manifested in the way we walk.