You can tell a lot about a person by the way they walk. The biggest indication of vulnerability is a person’s gait. Our mindset, posture, and gait are all intertwined and will project confident or vulnerable body language.
Several studies have been published that show a direct relation to HOW a predator selects their victims based on exactly this. YES, a psychopath can use this unspoken information to decide if their potential victim has been a victim of violence before and/or will be a more submissive and easier target now.
Using exploratory research from Consultant Psychiatrist Dr. Raj Persuad, Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, Carolyn Steber and Jesslyn Shields, let’s consider how your approachability, and personality, can be revealed in 6 common walking styles.
Slow Walkers: This shows that they may be more cautious and self aware. Introverts may be more inclined to walk this way with their chin and eyes down, more focused on personal thoughts, and can appear distracted.
Fast Walkers: Look out…here they come! They may be more outgoing, an extravert, and highly diligent. They are probably a go-getter, risk-taker and have high energy.
Strollers or Saunterers: They are usually “in no hurry”, prone to have their heads up looking at everything around them to take in as much information as possible, and they give off a perception of confidence and self assurance.
Quick Burst Walkers: These energetic walkers are more apt to attentiveness and specifics. They like to do several things at once and can pivot their attention to other places and thoughts quickly. Go, stop, go, stop and repeat.
Anxious Walkers: These may physically drag their feet, show stress through facial expressions and/or body language, and have an overall fidgety disposition. They could be sweaty, clenching their jaws and even look fatigued.
Slumped Shoulder Walkers: People who walk slightly bent over, head down and shoulders slumped may have a lower self-esteem. They may have past, or present, trauma in their life. They tend to walk slower, have shorter strides because they are afraid to make a wrong step, and appear not be 100% present because they are deep in thought.
Hummmmm, so who would YOU attack? The “slumped shoulder” walker because they appear afraid? The “quick bursts” walker because there is no way they are seeing a potential threat with all of that jumping around? Maybe it’s the “slow” walker because they may be distracted and would not see you coming? What would you say if I told you one good decision could change the perception of others?
Looking At Things From The Attacker's Point Of View
With the help of studies from the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Psychology Today and other quality-published articles, let’s read about an attacker’s perspective on simply walking down the street.
A group of inmates (psychopaths and other criminals) from a maximum-security penitentiary were asked to look at short video clips of people walking and then decide if any of those people could be potential victims and open to an attack. There was no sound on these clips, no backgrounds were given of the people in the videos and no additional information was offered. The results were shocking. Psychopaths demonstrated a higher accuracy rate, than all the other inmates, in picking out the people who had a prior history of being a victim, from the people who had never been assaulted. The psychopaths could actually tell by the person’s walk if they had survived violence. These psychopaths also mentioned that “gait and nonverbal cues” were the reason they would have chosen to assault a specific person. You see, these studies found that psychopaths are proficient in decoding vulnerability through nonverbal cues and gait, giving them leverage in selecting possible victims. This is a learned craft that appears to be part of their skills during an attack cycle.
Deselection can easily be a part of each one of those 6 walking styles with just one change….walk confident. In the video clips, the psychopaths stated the most noted difference in each person’s gait was nothing more than confident body language versus vulnerable body language. Below are some body language tricks to deselect you from the victim pool, if capable.
- Confident mindset
- Walk with a purpose, like you have a place to be.
- Match your gait with the normality of the environment. Same pace and similar style.
- Swing your arms, take long powerful strides, sway your hips and shift your weight with ease.
- Avoid distractions, mainly ear buds and smartphones.
- Head up, shoulders back and pay attention to your environment
When you walk with confidence, your body-mind will give off the impression that YOU ARE NOT LOW-POWER thereby altering others perception of you. SO YES, perception CAN determine reality.