Could the way you walk be a tip-off to a violent person that you are an easy target?
A new study in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence reinforces the fact that, under certain conditions, this might be the case.
The Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), the current gold standard test for psychopathy, assesses a person on a variety of elements that are classified into two main categories called “factors.” The first, Factor 1, consists of the person’s interpersonal or affective traits, basically measuring the extent to which they have an aggressive narcissistic personality. The second, Factor 2, consists of the person’s actual behavior and measures the extent to which they exhibit an antisocial or socially deviant lifestyle.
Previous research has shown that certain aspects of body language, including walking style, are characteristic of victims and that those scoring high on the Factor 1 measures of the PCL-R are more accurate than others in judging someone’s vulnerability simply from watching them walk.
Now, in “Psychopathy and Victim Selection: The Use of Gait as a Cue to Vulnerability,” researchers Angela Book, Kimberly Costello and Joseph A. Camilleri studied 47 inmates at a maximum security penitentiary in Ontario, Canada and found that not only, as expected, do the inmates scoring high on PCL-R Factor 1 more accurately than others judge people’s vulnerability by observing their gait, but they are also more likely to actually explicitly mention the victim’s gait in explaining why they perceived them as vulnerable.
Book is an associate professor at Brock University specializing in forensic psychology whose “research interests focus on psychopathy and its relationship with a number of variables that relate directly to victim selection.”
Costello is a Ph.D. candidate at Brock whose “research focuses on the development and reduction of prejudice and discrimination.”
Camilleri is an assistant professor at Westfield State University specializing in the study of “the etiology of interpersonal conflict” with a special interest in psychopathy.
As such, all work in critical areas related to ponerology, seeking answers to some of the most vexing and important questions that must be confronted as we pursue a healthier, more sustainable world.
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