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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1988 Oct;55(4):547-56.

Impressions of people created by age-related qualities of their gaits.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts 02254.


Drawing on the ecological theory of social perception, we investigated the impact of age-related gait qualities on trait impressions. In Study 1, subjects observed 5- to 70-year-old walkers depicted in point-light displays, and rated the walkers' traits, gaits, and ages. Younger walkers were perceived as more powerful and happier than older walkers. A composite of youthful gait qualities predicted trait impressions regardless of the walkers' masculine gait qualities, sex, and perceived age. In Study 2, subjects observed young adult walkers depicted in point-light displays and rated their traits, gaits, and ages. Consistent with the effects of real age found in Study 1, young adults with youthful gaits were perceived as more powerful and happier than peers with older gaits, irrespective of their masculine gait qualities, sex, and perceived age. Study 3 replicated Study 2 using displays showing walkers' full bodies and faces. A youthful gait predicted trait impressions even when subjects could discern the walkers' age and sex.

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