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The identification of emotions from gait information


The present study examined the potential for information provided in a person's style of walking to reveal certain emotions. Ten subjects observed five walkers expressing four different emotions and made emotion identifications as well as judgments about specific gait characteristics. Results revealed that subjects were able to identify sadness, anger, happiness, and pride from gait information at better than chance levels; however, identifications of pride were significantly less accurate than were identifications of sadness and anger. In addition, subjects' acuracy varied across the five walkers. Results also revealed that gait characteristics such as the amount of arm swing, stride length, heavyfootedness, and walking speed differentiated the emotions expressed by walkers.

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Additional information

Portions of this paper were presented at the 26th meeting of the New England Psychological Association, Boston, MA, November, 1986.

Joann M. Montepare received a Ph.D. in Social-Developmental Psychology from Brandeis University. She is presently a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for Research On Women, Wellesley College, Wellesley MA, 02181. Her research interests include the development of subjective perceptions of age and the impact of nonverbal information on social stereotypes of age. Sabra Goldstein and Annmarie Clausen hold B.A. degrees in Psychology from Wellesley College. Please address reprint requests to the first author.

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Montepare, J.M., Goldstein, S.B. & Clausen, A. The identification of emotions from gait information. J Nonverbal Behav 11, 33–42 (1987).

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  • Social Psychology
  • Chance Level
  • Stride Length
  • Gait Characteristic
  • Emotion Identification