The Way You Move Reveals Who You Are

The way you move could soon help doctors diagnose your mental health.

A landmark study has revealed that people with similar behavioural characteristics tend to also have similar body movements.

The researchers say we all have an individual motor signature. Just like a hand signature, it has unique features such as the speed we move or the weight of that movement.

But when those signatures are similar, it points to something more. “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,” said Professor Krasimira Tsaneva-Atanasova from the University of Exeter.

The research team used “mirror games” in which people were asked to imitate other participants’ movements. Over time, they were able to pinpoint behavioural trends. “What we demonstrate is that people typically want to react and interact with people who are similar to themselves,” according to Professor Tsaneva-Atanasova.

And while that offers insight into how friends and social groupings are formed, it could also pave the way to diagnosing certain health conditions. Do people, for example, with bipolar disorder all display similar individual motor signatures? Further study will try to find out.