The way people move could provide a unique insight into their personality, a new study finds.
In the future it may allow health professionals to diagnose and treat mental health problems.
The study suggests that each person has an ‘individual motor signature’ which defines how they move.
This includes things like the weight of their movement and speed.
In the study people played a mirror game in which they had to copy each other’s movements.
They found that people who moved in similar ways also displayed better collective behaviour.
The researchers think this means that people who move the same way will be able to interact more effectively as well.
Professor Krasimira Tsaneva-Atanasova, one of the study’s authors, said:
“Although human movement has been well studied, what is far less well understood is the differences each of us displays when we move — whether it is faster, or lighter, or smoother for example.
This study shows that people who move in a certain way, will also react in similar ways when they are performing joint tasks.
Essentially, our movements give an insight into our inherent personality traits.
What we demonstrate is that people typically want to react and interact with people who are similar to themselves.
But what our study also shows is that movement gives an indication of a person’s behavioural characteristics.
This could therefore be used in the future to help diagnose patients with certain conditions by studying how they move and react to others.”
The study was published in the Journal of The Royal Society Interface (Słowiński et al., 2016).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Mental work image from Shutterstock