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Do You Walk Angry? Here Is What May Happen in The Future

Tim Boyer's picture
When a walk is more than a walk

Walking is a great way to exercise. But did you know that the way you walk might reveal your personality type or how you are feeling? Here’s an interesting tidbit that may cause you to ask yourself, “Do I walk angry?” the next time you step out to burn some calories.


According to a news release from Portsmouth University, the way you walk could reveal to others just how aggressive you are. Researchers from PU’s Department of Psychiatry used a combination of personality tests and motion capture video to see if there is a connection between the way a person walks and their personality.

Lead researcher Liam Satchell states that, “People are generally aware that there is a relationship between swagger and psychology. Our research provides empirical evidence to confirm that personality is indeed manifest in the way we walk.”

As it turns out, this is not a new idea. In fact, a significant number of studies have been done in the past where participants were asked to judge a person solely on how they carried themselves moving from point A to point B. But what the studies typically found was that people watching others tended to largely misjudge rather than be on the mark when labeling someone by their walking style. The exception to this, however, turned out to be that psychopaths in prison were especially adept at reading someone by how they moved.

Taking a less subjective measure of a man, the Portsmouth researchers tackled the idea by using metrics of body movement while study participants were walking at their normal pace and style on a treadmill. That in combination with some personality tests revealed that when a person walks with exaggerated movement of both the upper and lower body, that it is an indication of aggression.

“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,” says Satchell. “Our research provides empirical evidence to confirm that personality is indeed manifest in the way we walk…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.”

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Of note, the news release reports that Satchell points out that identifying the potential relationship between an individual’s biological motion and their intention to engage in aggression could be used to help prevent crime.

“If CCTV observers could be trained to recognize the aggressive walk demonstrated in this research, their ability to recognize impending crimes could be improved further.”

In other words, in the not so distant future it could be that when you head out the door to burn some calories with a good hard walk, you just may have to watch your step while Big Brother is watching.


University of Portsmouth “New study finds link between walk and aggression

Evidence of Big Five and Aggressive Personalities in Gait Biomechanics” Journal of Nonverbal Behavior (2016) Liam Satchell et al.