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Body Movements May Give Clues To Personality, Mental Health

Body Movements May Give Clues To Personality, Mental Health

George Harrison may have been on to something when he wrote, “Something in the way she moves.” A new study confirms that a person’s body movements can offer clues into their personality traits and that people find it easier to interact with those who move in a similar way. In fact, the way you move your body may even give insight into your mental health.

The new study, conducted by researchers from the University of Exeter, the University of Bristol, Montpellier University, and the University of Naples Federico II, suggests that each person has an individual motor signature (IMS), a blueprint of the subtle differences in the way you move compared to another person in terms of speed or weight of movement for example.

The study may one day open up new pathways for health clinicians to diagnose and treat mental health conditions.

Using a plain mirror game, in which two participants are asked to imitate each other’s movements, the researchers found that people with similar body motions tend to display more organized collective behavior.

The research team believes that these findings suggest that people with similar movement blueprints will therefore find it easier to coordinate with each other during interpersonal interactions.

The researchers also believe that a person’s IMS, as well as how they interact with others, can offer insight into their mental health condition, and therefore pave the way for personalized prediction, diagnosis, or treatment in the future.

“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,” said Professor Krasimira Tsaneva-Atanasova, of the University of Exeter.

“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 behavioral 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 is published in the Royal Society journal Interface.

Source: University of Exeter

Body Movements May Give Clues To Personality, Mental Health

Traci Pedersen

Traci Pedersen is a professional writer with over a decade of experience. Her work consists of writing for both print and online publishers in a variety of genres including science chapter books, college and career articles, and elementary school curriculum.

APA Reference
Pedersen, T. (2018). Body Movements May Give Clues To Personality, Mental Health. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 25, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 24 Mar 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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