Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 129-158

First online:

Victim Selection and Kinematics: A Point-Light Investigation of Vulnerability to Attack

  • Rebekah E. GunnsAffiliated withUniversity of Canterbury
  • , Lucy JohnstonAffiliated withUniversity of CanterburyDepartment of Psychology, University of Canterbury
  • , Stephen M. HudsonAffiliated withUniversity of Canterbury

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Three experiments used a point-light methodology to investigate whether movement style specifies vulnerability to physical attack. Both female (Experiment 1) and male (Experiment 2) walkers could be differentiated according to ease-of-attack based solely on the kinematic information provided whilst walking. Specific walking style features predicted ease-of-attack and profiles of prototypically “easy to attack” and “difficult to attack” walkers were identified. Variations in walking style as a function of clothing and footwear style were also shown to predict differences in ease-of-attack ratings (Experiment 3). Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are considered.

kinematics point-light vulnerability