Psychological Influences on gait: What people said...

Dear Chris,

Thank you for broaching an important and interesting area. In this lab we
are looking for faster, less time consuming and cheaper ways of assesing
gait - Laban notaion looks like a candidate. Do you know of any studies
correlating Laban notation effort-shape diagrams and quantitative gait

I have a personal interest in emotion and gait and how we may quantify any
relationship. I can see the difference from your gait, am interested to
hear of any approaches to tease out the effects of chronic attitudes on gait.

Many thanks again, I hope to come up with some contributions in the coming

       Christopher Stevens, Clinical Scientist, Gait Laboratory,
     Clinical Biomedical Engineering Centre, Queen Mary's Hospital,
            Roehampton Lane, London, England, SW15 5PN
        Tel: +44-181-355-2175; Fax: +44-181-355-2952
  CBEC is a collaborative venture with the Biomedical Engineering Group,
                       University of Surrey

I'm afraid the answer is no! I think the Bernstein/Cafarelli study on EMG is so far the only one done (Bernstein P & Cafarelli E (1972) An Electromyographical Validation of the Effort System of Notation. American Dance Therapy Assn. No 2: 78-92 - I have a copy of this, incidentally, if anyone is interested).

In general, the style of movement is very rarely assessed by gait laboratories, although it's probably the first thing we notice when we look at someone walking. For example, we have all, I'm sure, waited patiently for a child's gait to settle down from the peevish mood they are often in by the time markers have been attached - so we must very easily distinguish between a grumpy gait and a natural one. How do we do it?

Dr. Chris Kirtley MD PhD
Dept. of Rehabilitation Sciences
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Motion and emotion

I am working since several years on research of a possible relation between
emotion and motion, although I am not a gait specialist. In order to
accomplish this we have developed a simple computer program for motion
energy detection, because other systems can not be used in observation of
unstaged social interactions.
Our results indicate up to now (some of them are preliminary) that there is
quite a lot of communicative value in  motion, which has been underestimated
completely, although the first notions go back to the twenties of the last
century. A. Flach wrote in 1921 "the meaning is not in the content of a
gesture, it is in its motion". Basically these approaches where simply
descriptive, but there where also more sophisticated ones working with
coordinates from movies and recalculating the third dimension.
We have published one article on this up to now in JPSP where we show that
in Japanese and German females motivation to make contact can be communicated
with changes in motion, whereas the actual behavior is different between the
two cultures.
Folk psychology would predict all this, there is theater and dance, all
emotionally expressive. There are also some older works on the recognition
of emotion from point-light displays, I think by Bassili.
The most interesting experiment was recently done by Siegfried Frey (not
published in english, Die Macht des Bildes, Hans Huber Verlag 1999). He had
original politicians rate by viewers, then he took the movements and used it
on a dummy, where he received they same personality ratings. We find
comparable results when we analyze male body movements, where we are able to
predict the big-five personality traits. Interestingly enough this is not
possible with females.
We have finished some work on the prediction of gender identification from
walking and currently we are looking at the prediction from BDI depression
scores from body movements in interviews with neural networks,  and the
consistency of attractiveness and personality ratings in dance.

more information you will find at our web site

Prof. Karl Grammer
Institute for Urban Ethology at the Institute for Human Biology
Althanstrasse 14
A-1090 Vienna/Austria
Tel: +43-1-31336-1253 Fax:  +43-1-31336-788

Dear Karl, and others interested,

Many thanks for telling us about your work, which is absolutely
fascinating, I must say!

I was especially interested that you are able, in males, at least, to
predict the five personality traits (temperaments, I guess, in
individual differences terminology). I have often wondered whether we
might be able to correlate some kinematic measures with something like
the Rusalov personality inventory, which, being based on Soviet
(Pavlovian) psychology, tends to be more physiologically-based than the
Western type. Some of the dimensions he uses are very similar to the
ones that Laban described: ergonicity (force of decision-making),
chronicity (speed of decision-making), flexibility (perhaps equivalent
to Laban's "space" measure), and use of feedback from both objects and
other people (which I guess would be bound or fluent control).

I wonder what you think of this schema, and whether you've come across
Rusalov's work? Also, which personality types you were able to detect
with accuracy?

Sorry if all of this is a bit obscure to fellow gait-analysers... but I
guess it may be interesting some, so it would be nice to continue the

Dr. Chris Kirtley MD PhD
Dept. of Rehabilitation Sciences
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Dear readers,

Karl's work is fascinating, as is the bi-directional link between motion
and emotion.

My research is the clustering/classification of pathological gait using
artificial neural networks (NN), and on one hand it is reassuring to
read that the NN's are able to detect emotional status on the basis of
movement. On the other hand this suggests that in gait labs we are
looking at only a few of the variables determining motion, and emotion
is not one of them.

My question is about the weight of emotion compared to the weight of
pathology in affecting motion. How much can emotions change motion? Is
it comparable with the effects of a mild pathology, or is it in a
different order of magnitude?


Dr Gabor Barton MD                  email:
Manager, Gait Analysis Laboratory
Alder Hey Children's Hospital       tel:  +44 (0)151 252 5949
Eaton Road, Liverpool               fax1: +44 (0)870 052 1935
L12 2AP, UK                         fax2: +44 (0)151 252 5846


Some time ago, I read a reseach article from the Candian Journal of
Psychiatry in which David Winter participated.  Essentially, he was able to
determine the level of depression in patients based on the amount of reactive
longitudinal ground shear they were able to produce.  The more depressed they
were, the less propulsive their step.  He was actually able to track the
level of depression as it increased and decreased and correlate it with RLGS.

Seems to fit nicely into this discussion.

Howard Dananberg, DPM
21 Eastman Avenue
Bedford, New Hampshire

Dear Chris and others,
Regarding the article on shear force and walking in The Canadian Journal of
Psychiatry referred to by Howard Dananberg in Chris' recent message. I
wonder if these are the articles of interest, (Winter is possibly among the
"et al"):

Sloman, L et al. Gait patterns of depressed patients and normal subjects.
American Journal of Psychiatry Vol 139(1), 94-97. 1982.

Sloman, L, Pierrynowski, M., Berridge, M., Tupling, S., et al. Mood,
depressive illness and gait patterns. Canadian.Journal of Psychiatry Vol
32(3), 190-193. 1987.

Wintry regards from Norway

Dear all,

I've managed to locate abstracts for those papers on depression that
were mentioned by Rolf Moe-Nilssen:

L Sloman, M Berridge, S Homatidis, D Hunter and T Duck (1982) Gait
patterns of depressed patients and normal subjects. American Journal of
Psychiatry Vol 139(1), 94-97.

The authors compared the gait patterns of 15 patients with affective
disorders with those of 15 normal control subjects. The procedure
involved a frame-by-frame analysis of a film of each subject walking at
normal speed. Angle measurements were made of the hip and knee at their
maximum extension during a single gait cycle (one stride). The results
generally support the hypothesis that depressed patients walk with a
lifting motion of the leg, whereas normal control subjects propel
themselves forward.

Sloman L, Pierrynowski M, Berridge M, Tupling S, Flowers J (1987) Mood,
depressive illness and gait patterns. Can J Psychiatry 1987

This study measures the ground force patterns of 87 normal, older
adults. It tests the hypothesis that there is a relation between a
subject's mood as measured by the Beck Inventory, and the ground
reaction forces as measured by a force plate during normal gait. Results
showed that the push-off force in the posterior and downward directions
was correlated with the expression of mood state. Lower mood individuals
demonstrated a smaller push-off force and these ground force patterns of
low mood state subjects resembled the patterns found in a previous study
of clinically depressed patients. It is suggested that gait measurement
could provide a sensitive index of level of depression in a clinical

I confess that I'm pleasantly surprised by this literature. Whilst I was
personally certain of a link between motion and emotion, I didn't
realise it was so easy to measure and quantify. So, perhaps we now need
normative ranges for the various mood states as well as walking speed,
age, etc., etc.! It's particularly interesting, isn't it, that mood is
so strongly correlated with A2 push-off power (and it's correlates, AP
shear force and stride length)? The more I study gait, the more these
variables seem to be the best outcome measures of just about everything!

Dr. Chris Kirtley MD PhD
Dept. of Rehabilitation Sciences
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University


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