Researchers at the University of Portsmouth’s Department of Psychology assessed the personalities of 29 participants, and then used motion capture technology to record them walking on a treadmill.
The study found that exaggerated movement of both the upper and lower body suggested aggression.
Lead researcher Liam Satchell said: “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.”
Mr Satchell said: “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.
He suggested 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 recognise the aggressive walk demonstrated in this research, their ability to recognise impending crimes could be improved further.”
The paper is published in Journal of Nonverbal Behavior.