Gait is a person’s manner of walking. How attractive a person’s gait depends on many important factors such as the straightness of the limbs, technique, shoulder width, forearm length, torso length, height, upright posture, physical strength, emotional state, intentions, and rhythm. Like with other external expressive body movements, gait also likely functions to signal other socially relevant things such as dominance status and personality traits. An unusual, clumsy, awkward, or overly rigid gait may lead to socially unfavorable outcomes as it is associated with neurological deficits such as autism and other health issues.
Women more than men discriminate between strong and weak walkers when assessing the attractiveness of male gait, though the degree to which they prefer a sexually dimorphic male gait varies substantially by culture.
A mincing, feminine gait with a pronounced sway in the hips is also seen as attractive among women. The wearing of high heels exaggerates these particular qualities of the gait. Thus women may wear these kinds of shoes to enhance their attractiveness and signal sexual availability to (certain) men.
Men may be attracted to a gait that includes an anteriorly tilted lumbar curvature for several reasons. This type of lumbar curvature may have allowed ancestral female hominids to attenuate the lower back issues often caused by the hyper-lordotic posture associated with the later stages of pregnancy. Secondly, this arched spine pose may tap into ancestral adaptions that bring to mind sexual activity, as it mimics the lordotic copulatory posture found in many mammals. The same posing of the arched spine also makes twerking a particularly sexually provocative dance.
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People intuit other’s gait consciously and subconsciously to attempt to determine interpersonal characteristics (personality, social status, health, etc.) to varying degrees of accuracy.  Psychopaths are more accurate at perceiving potential victim’s vulnerability based on gait cues.  Autists also generally have a more awkward gait compared to neurotypicals.  The awkwardness (lack of rhythm) is especially noticeable using motion tracking software.
A study on body motion cues was performed to understand better how intentions and traits are perceived from body movement. The researchers conducted two experiments to investigate whether the perceived traits of actors could be determined from their body motion and whether these traits were associated with their perceived intentions. The researchers recorded body motions from 26 professional actors, who were instructed to move in a “hero”-like or a “villain”-like manner. In the first experiment, 190 participants viewed individual video recordings of these actors. They were required to provide ratings to the body motion stimuli and a series of different cognitive dimensions (intentions, attractiveness, dominance, trustworthiness, and distinctiveness). The intersubject ratings across observers were highly consistent, suggesting that social traits are readily determined from body motion.
Moreover, correlational analyses between these ratings revealed consistent associations across traits; for example, perceived “good” intentions were associated with higher ratings of attractiveness and dominance. The second experiment results revealed distinct body motions that were readily associated with the perception of either “good” or “bad” intentions. Moreover, regression analyses revealed that these ratings accurately predicted the perception of the portrayed character type. These findings indicate that intentions and social traits are communicated effectively via specific sets of body motion features.
See also[edit | edit source]
- Fisherian runaway
- Looks theory
- Halo effect
References[edit | edit source]