7 Things You Can Determine About Someone’s Personality Based On The Way They Walk
The way a person stands, how they talk, and their mannerisms can often reveal a lot about their personality. But the way someone walks may say a lot about them, too.
"A study from 2017 demonstrated the relationship between our style of walking and our personality traits, as they correspond with The Big Five," Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. Published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, this study compared walking speed and the The Big Five personality traits; or the five broad categories of personality traits can be broken into openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, and neuroticism. According to the researchers, the study provided "robust evidence that walking speed in adulthood reflects, in part, the individual’s personality."
But body language can come into play, too. "Everything matters here: speed, stride, position of arms," Backe says. "And it comes as no surprise, really, seeing as how body language is — and always has been — the biggest 'tell' of them all." If you know what to do look for, it may be possible to learn a lot about someone, simply by how they walk down the street. Here are a few walking styles and what they might say about someone's personality, according to experts.
1. Fast Walkers Are More Outgoing
If someone is a fast walker, there's a good chance they're highly outgoing — and they may even be more conscientious. According to the study in Social Psychological and Personality Science, "across most samples and in a meta-analysis, lower neuroticism and higher extraversion, conscientiousness, and openness at baseline were prospectively related to faster gait speed."
2. Slow Walkers Are More Cautious
When someone is more inclined towards walking at a slower pace, it may reveal their inner cautiousness. "Slower, shorter strides may mean you are more self-centered, though not necessarily in a bad way," Backe says. "It means you are cautious and are looking out for yourself. It is a measured kind of individual who walks that way. Introverts may be found walking like that, with their head sort of down."
3. Anxious Folks Veer Left
If someone is an anxious person in general — or simply feeling anxious in the moment — they may be more likely to veer slightly left as they walk. According to WebMD, "Researchers tracking peoples' movements as they walked blindfolded found that the more stressed someone felt, the farther left they strayed when aiming for a target straight ahead. This may be because the right side of your brain is working harder to handle your doubts and dread."
4. Saunterers Are Confident
If someone tends to stroll down the sidewalk, with their head up but no real direction in mind, it may be a sign of confidence. "A slow, easy gait shows confidence, self-assuredness, and lack of urgency," Kimberly Friedmutter, CHt, hypnotherapist and author Subconscious Power, tells Bustle. "Look for this gait in a taller than average person," as they also tend to have higher levels of confidence.
5. Harried Walkers Are Detail-Oriented
If someone walks with quick bursts of energy, it's often a sign their super attentiveness to detail. "In stride, they might run over to a chair and adjust it or ... bolt over to shake a hand," Friedmutter says. "This person ... uses this quick, jerky walking style to pivot their attention place to place and thought to thought."
6. Graceful Walkers Have High Self-Esteem
While not true for all people, a graceful gait may be a sign of someone's inner confidence. And, according to experts, it's often all in the direction they point their feet.
"When a person walks by pronating their feet, like dancers do ... they might [have high self-esteem] because pronating is not our natural way of walking, but is taught," Providence Hogan, LMT, a massage therapist and posture expert, tells Bustle.
7. Slumped Shoulders Mean Someone's Protecting Themselves
If a person walks along slightly bent forward with slumped shoulders, there may be a reason why. "People [who] walk with shoulders pushed forward are often protecting their hearts in one way or another," Hogan says. They may have recently been through a trauma, and have yet to recover — and it's all showing in their walking style.
Keep in mind, though, that the assumptions we make based on someone's gait aren't always accurate. Even though researchers and body language experts have made a few connections, they aren't always true, so it's always a good idea to take this advice in stride (pun intended).