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Person Perception through Gait Information and Target Choice for Sexual Advances: Comparison of likely Targets in Experiments and Real Life

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Point-light and full-view short video clips of female walkers were displayed on a CRT monitor and male students rated the likelihood of selecting a walker for various advances. Relationships between the ratings, the walkers’ self-reported frequencies of being approached, gait cues, and self-rated personality traits were examined. In the point-light condition, raters selected slow walkers with a short stride length and personality traits implying vulnerability as targets for inappropriate touching. In the full-view condition, the raters selected fashionably groomed or physically attractive walkers as sexual advance targets. These criteria corresponded partially with reported occurrences of advances. Awkward movement impression was suggested as a kinematic gait quality influencing sexual advance target choice.
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ORIGINAL PAPER
Person Perception through Gait Information and Target
Choice for Sexual Advances: Comparison of likely
Targets in Experiments and Real Life
Kikue Sakaguchi ÆToshikazu Hasegawa
Published online: 1 June 2006
Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006
Abstract Point-light and full-view short video clips of female walkers were displayed on
a CRT monitor and male students rated the likelihood of selecting a walker for various
advances. Relationships between the ratings, the walkers’ self-reported frequencies of
being approached, gait cues, and self-rated personality traits were examined. In the point-
light condition, raters selected slow walkers with a short stride length and personality traits
implying vulnerability as targets for inappropriate touching. In the full-view condition, the
raters selected fashionably groomed or physically attractive walkers as sexual advance
targets. These criteria corresponded partially with reported occurrences of advances.
Awkward movement impression was suggested as a kinematic gait quality influencing
sexual advance target choice.
Keywords Gait ÆKinematic information ÆPerson perception ÆPoint-light display Æ
Sexual advance
Person perception is assumed to have ecological importance in situations wherein
strangers choose which person to approach (McArthur & Baron, 1983). Based on a
short period of observation, approachers estimate the personality, emotions, attitudes,
abilities, and behavior intentions of a target person and decide whether they will
approach him/her in a certain social context. Advances by strangers are not always
welcome, especially when the target is a woman and the advance includes sexual
intentions (Clark & Hatfield, 1989). This may be a natural reaction because women
generally feel more negatively about having short-term sexual relationships, as com-
pared to men (Buss, 1994; Schmitt et al., 2003). Moreover, unexpected sexual advances
K. Sakaguchi (&)ÆT. Hasegawa
Hasegawa lab, Department of Cognitive and Behavioral Science, College of Arts and Science,
The University of Tokyo, 3-8-1 Komaba, Meguro-ku, Tokyo
e-mail: kikue@darwin.c.u-tokyo.ac.jp
K. Sakaguchi
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Tokyo, Japan
123
J Nonverbal Behav (2006) 30:63–85
DOI 10.1007/s10919-006-0006-2
by strange men sometimes turn out to be instances of sexual assault. Therefore, which
person perception cues are related to choices for sexual advances is an interesting
question with both basic theoretical and applied implications.
There are two general assumptions concerning male target choice criteria for sexual
advances toward women. One is that men prefer to have sexual relationships with young,
physically attractive women (Buss, 1994; Walster, Aronson, Abrahams, & Rottmann,
1966). The other is that victimology studies indicate that when approachers are attempting
to engage in something that is against a target woman’s will, they tend to choose less
confident, shy women (Browne & Finkelhor, 1986; Finkelhor & Browne, 1985; Gidycz,
Coble, Latham, & Layman, 1993; Myers, Templer, & Brown, 1984; White & Smith,
2001). Questions that have not yet been well explored are whether such criteria in target
choice correspond to the actual daily incidence of unexpected and uncomfortable advances
experienced by women.
We focused on two major sexual advances by strangers that are experienced by Japa-
nese young women frequently. The first involves men conversing with a woman with
sexual intent, even when the woman does not have flirtatious intentions. The other is
inappropriate touching of body parts, which typically occurs in crowded modes of trans-
port. The latter is a sexual offense and if caught, the offender will be arrested. However, its
frequent occurrence in Japanese society implies that the offenders probably do not consider
the act as a serious sexual offense. Focusing on these relatively common unwanted ad-
vances has its limitations—there exist few academic investigations on the risk factors of
such advances and whether such an advance actually took place or not is less obvious, as
compared to definite serious sexual offenses like rape. On the other hand, it is easier to
contrast the characteristics of frequently approached and rarely approached women and
compare the target choice criteria revealed by these women’s reports with those manifested
in rating experiments. Thus, the criteria for target choices in real life advances should
involve not only the impression of vulnerability but also sexual desirability, sexual
accessibility, and general approachability.
After combining the approachers’ target choice criteria and the targets’ characteristics
associated with these criteria, it was hypothesized that a certain personality profile of a
woman corresponds with the target choice criteria for a certain kind of advance. A previous
study (Sakaguchi & Hasegawa, in press) used surveys of university women’s personality
and experiences being a target for the two kinds of unexpected sexual advances (con-
versing with, inappropriate touching) and nonsexual advances. The results demonstrated
that (a) higher frequency of being conversed with was associated with unrestricted so-
ciosexuality (i.e., permissiveness with regard to short-term sexual relationships) and high
extraversion and openness in the Big Five theory of personality; (b) higher frequency of
being a target for inappropriate touching had little association with personality factors; (c)
higher frequency of being a target for nonsexual advances was associated with high
agreeableness and extraversion and low neuroticism in the Big Five personality factors.
These correlations generally remained significant after environmental influences (popu-
lation size of the district, the frequency of going downtown, and socio-economic bracket in
which a woman had grown up) and the height of the woman were statistically controlled
for. It still remains to be tested whether strangers can identify women who experience
frequent advances through a brief observation, whether the personality profiles of women
rated as likely targets will correspond with those observed in the questionnaire surveys, and
which cues strangers use to base such judgments.
In view of previous research on person perception, strangers are expected to be able to
infer some broad personality traits of a target, although with moderate accuracy. For
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example, after several minutes of encounters in small groups, strangers inferred some of
the Big Five personality factors (Albright, Kenny, & Malloy, 1988; John & Robins, 1993;
Kenny, Horner, Kashy, & Chu, 1992; Watson, 1989). Inferences can also be made through
the observation of a target video clip having a duration of only a few minutes (Borkenau &
Liebler, 1992, 1993; Funder & Colvin, 1988; Lippa & Dietz, 2000). Some cues for these
inferences are nonverbal behavioral characteristics of a target, and others are related to
physical appearance such as physical attractiveness implying higher extraversion, or
neatness of clothes implying higher conscientiousness (Albright et al., 1988; Borkenau &
Liebler, 1993; Kenny et al., 1992).
Nonverbal behavioral cues have been demonstrated to improve person perception
accuracy (Ambady, Hallahan, & Conner, 1999; for a meta-analysis, Ambady & Rosen-
thal, 1992, 1993; Borkenau & Liebler, 1992; Brown, Palameta, & Moore, 2003; Driscoll,
Kelly, & Henderson, 1998; Gangestad, Simpson, DiGeronimo, & Biek, 1992; Lippa &
Dietz, 2000; Oltmanns, Friedman, Fiedler, & Turkheimer, 2004), even when presented for
an extremely brief duration such as less than a minute. In this line of research, raters
typically viewed short video clips of a target in a socially relevant activity and provided
their judgment about the target regarding traits in specific social contexts, such as
depression or anxiety of the patients, the existence of deception in communication, social
dominance, personality disorders, and sociosexual orientation, rather than the abstract
personality factors mentioned previously.
Among nonverbal behavioral cues, person perception through gait information has the
potential of even stronger ecological relevance since a person’s gait is one of the first
available cues when people judge the characteristics of a stranger in a public place and
decide how to interact with the person. Therefore, this topic has attracted the attention of
researchers very early on (Allport & Vernon, 1933; Eisenberg & Reichline, 1939; Wolff,
1935); however, it was methodologically difficult to present the behavioral component of
gait separately and therefore the results were not conclusive. Later, the development of the
point-light kinematic display method enabled researchers to demonstrate that men can
indeed infer various traits of a target solely on the basis of movement cues of gait (walker’s
sex, Barclay, Cutting, & Kozlowski, 1978; Cutting, Proffitt, & Kozlowski, 1978; Koz-
lowski & Cutting, 1977; identification of individuals, Beardsworth & Buckner, 1981;
Cutting & Kozlowski, 1977; age, Montepare & Zebrowitz-McArthur, 1988; Montepare &
Zebrowitz, 1993; social dominance, Montepare & Zebrowitz, 1993; vulnerability to as-
sault, Gunns, Johnston, & Hudson, 2002). Several experimental attempts were made to
investigate vulnerability cues in gait in target choice for assault (Grayson & Stein, 1981;
Gunns et al., 2002; Murzynski & Degelman, 1996), and Gunns et al. demonstrated an
impressively high inter-rater agreement in distinguishing a ‘‘vulnerable’’ gait (intra-class
correlation r= .922) using the point-light display method. However, the external validity
in terms of whether the walkers judged as easy victims have experienced many attacks in
real life was not explored.
To summarize, men are expected to infer some of a target’s traits in specific social
contexts based on brief movement cues as demonstrated in point-light displays of gait. It
would be more difficult to estimate a target’s traits using broader personality trait concepts,
although raters may be implicitly using such concepts in estimating a target’s attitude or
behavior intentions. Not only movement cues in an experimental setting but also differ-
ences in behavioral responses to differences in social environments and physical appear-
ance contribute to person perception. Therefore, in this study, we investigated whether
male raters can identify frequently approached and rarely approached female targets
through a brief observation of gait. One study is filmed in an experimental studio and the
J Nonverbal Behav (2006) 30:63–85 65
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targets are displayed in point-light (Study 1), and the other is filmed in a natural envi-
ronment and the targets are displayed in full-view (Study 2). With the aim of increasing
judgment accuracy in an ecologically meaningful context (McArthur & Baron, 1983),
raters were asked to imagine that they were on the verge of approaching a woman and state
the likelihood of selecting a target on the screen for a certain kind of advance. The
convergence between raters’ choice and female walkers’ self-reported frequencies of being
approached, self-report personality traits, and cues in gait were examined. In order to
reduce the load on the raters, the walking models were recruited from a large population
and the distribution of their frequencies of being approached and their personality traits
were checked. Male university students served as the raters as it is not feasible to use
prison inmates for psychological studies in Japan. Previous studies concerning sexual
assault target choice have demonstrated that male students performed as well as sexual
assault experts (Furby, Fischhoff, & Morgan, 1989) or police officers (Grayson & Stein,
1981).
Using a modified version of Brunswik’s lens model (Fig. 1: modified from Hammond,
Hursch, & Todd, 1964), the goals of this study were as follows:
A. To determine whether the strangers’ ratings regarding the likelihood of their
selecting a target for a certain type of advance (I in Fig. 1) correspond with the
targets’ self-reported frequencies of being approached (II).
B, B¢. To determine whether the strangers’ ratings (I) corresponded with the targets’ self-
ratings of certain personality traits (III), and whether the targets’ self-reported
frequencies of being approached (II) corresponded with their personality traits
(III).
C, C¢. To determine whether the strangers’ ratings (I) were associated with certain cues of a
walking target (IV), and whether the targets’ self-reported frequencies of being
approached (II) are associated with these cues of the walking target (IV).
D. Whether the targets’ self-ratings of certain personality traits (III) associated with
target choice in rating experiments or in real life appear in the cues of the walking
target (IV).
Among these paths, the association between II and III (B¢) was explored in the
previous study using questionnaires (Sakaguchi & Hasegawa, in press). Other paths
were explored using point-light (Study 1) and full-view (Study 2) gait video clips as
target stimuli and male students as raters. Conversing with sexual intentions, inappro-
priate touching, and nonsexual advances were considered as real life examples of
advances.
Fig. 1 The modified Brunswik’s
lens model
66 J Nonverbal Behav (2006) 30:63–85
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Study 1
Method
Overview
Point-light representations of female walkers’ gait were created in a laboratory. The female
walkers also answered a questionnaire pertaining to information about their personality
traits and their experienced frequencies of unexpected advances by strangers. Video clips
of point-light walkers were randomly displayed on a CRT monitor. On viewing these video
clips, male raters rated the probability of selecting a target walker for certain kinds of
advances. Correlations between the responses of male raters (I in Fig. 1), the frequencies of
female experiences of being approached (II), and female self-reported personality traits
(III) were examined. Kinematic gait parameters (VI) were calculated from the video clips,
and their correlations with male ratings (I), the frequency of female experiences (II), and
female self-reported personality traits (III) were examined.
Assessment of Frequency of being Approached
The frequency of being a target for unexpected sexual advances by strangers was answered
using four 5-point-scale (1 = never,2=1–2 times, 3=3–5 times, 4=6–9 times,
5=more than 10 times) questionnaire items (conversed with before entering high school,
conversed with after entering high school, inappropriate touching before entering high
school, and inappropriate touching after entering high school). In order to obtain reliability of
responses, the definitions of the types of advances were made to be as detailed as possible
(conversed with: ‘‘you were approached or followed by an opposite-sex stranger, to whom
you had not paid favorable attention, who demonstrated apparent sexual intentions toward
you when you were walking on the street [not a solicitation for selling goods or recruitment
for the adult-entertainment business]’’; inappropriate touching: ‘‘you were a target for
inappropriate touching on your sexual body parts by an opposite-sex stranger in a public
place such as a train or the street’’). The language used in the questionnaires was familiar to
an average Japanese person and no questions concerning the definitions of incidents were
made by the participants. The questionnaire survey results of more than 400 female students
suggested that the responses to each of the items were greatly skewed (see Appendix). In
addition, for each kind of sexual advance, the experienced frequencies during two life periods
were given. Items regarding the two periods positively correlated with each other. The sum of
the scores of the two items was used as the frequency of being approached with regard to
conversing with or inappropriate touching (possible score range for each advance: 2–10). The
use of a multiple-item scale is an effective method to improve the reliability of a self-report
sexual abuse experience questionnaire (Aalsma, Zimet, Fortenberry, Blythe, & Orr, 2002).
With regard to women’s propensity toward being a target for unexpected sexual ad-
vances, a composite score comprising all the four items pertaining to the respondents’
frequencies of being approached was calculated (possible score range: 4–20). This score
was used only for checking the makeup of female walkers in comparison with the larger
population and was not used in subsequent analyses. Using quartile points of this score on
the questionnaire surveys, women whose scores corresponded to the 75% point (score 8)
and above were classified as being frequently approached, and those whose scores cor-
responded to the 25% point (score 5) or less, were classified as rarely being approached.
J Nonverbal Behav (2006) 30:63–85 67
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The item measuring the frequency of nonsexual advances was ‘‘do strangers often
approach you to ask directions or to converse with you (without possible sexual inten-
tions)?’’ Nonsexual advances occur frequently and do not have a great psychological
impact, and it was unlikely that participants would remember how many times they were
approached during a certain time period. Therefore, the item was answered using a 7-point
Likert scale (1 = definitely not, 7=definitely yes).
Walkers
The walkers were 15 female undergraduate students from universities in Tokyo
(M = 19.27 years, SD = .59, range: 19–20). They were volunteers who responded to
recruitment e-mails. Subjects were recruited through a questionnaire that was sent via e-
mail to those who registered as possible participants in introductory psychology courses.
At the time of recruitment, the experimenters informed the applicants that recorded video
clips would be used as stimuli in a rating experiment and that they would be provided with
a questionnaire containing personal questions. Before the video recording, written in-
formed consent for participation was obtained from the walkers.
During the filming of the video, the walkers wore a black cap, provided by the
experimenter, dark colored tops, and slacks. When a top was loose around the torso, a wide
black belt was used to tighten it around the waist. The walkers wore footwear that they
were accustomed to wearing. In accordance with previous studies (Cutting & Kozlowski,
1977; Cutting et al., 1978; Kozlowski & Cutting, 1977), commercially available, glass-
bead retroreflective tape, 5 cm in width, was used to create the point-light display. With
regard to the head, reflective tape patch squares measuring 5 cm were attached on both
sides of the cap. With regard to arms and legs, tape was wrapped around the walkers’
wrists, around the arms just above the elbow, around the ankles, and around the legs just
above the knee. Patches 8.5 cm in length were attached to the shoulders as epaulets, and
patches 17 cm in length were attached to their belts on both sides of the hip (Fig. 2). The
walkers walked back and forth in front of partitions covered with blackout curtains to
prevent reflections. They were asked to walk for a while as naturally as possible, at their
Fig. 2 A walker with glass-bead
tape wrapped around the joints
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normal pace, without being camera conscious. The female experimenter recorded side
views of each walker as they walked in front of the video camera (Sony Hi8 Handycam
CCD-TRV80PK), 5.5 m from the lens. The camera was fixed on a tripod at a height of
1.2 m from the floor; it was manually focused and did not pan to follow the walker. When
each walker got accustomed to the situation, the experimenter turned off the light in the
room and filmed her walking under the light of a halogen lamp (Sony XB-3D), which was
built into the video camera.
Following the video recording session, the walker answered a questionnaire consisting
of items pertaining to the frequency with which she had been approached by strangers in
public places, the Sociosexual Orientation Inventory (Simpson & Gangestad, 1991), the
Self-Monitoring Scale (Briggs, Cheek, & Buss, 1980), a Japanese standardized version
(Shimonaka, Nakazato, Gondo, & Takayama, 1999) of the NEO-FFI (a Big Five person-
ality inventory, Costa & McCrae, 1989), and the Shyness and Sociability Scale (Cheek &
Buss, 1981). The Sociosexual Orientation Inventory was scored by averaging each item,
which was standardized using the scores of 150 Japanese female students (M = ).01,
SD = .52, range: ).97–2.99). High scores in the Sociosexual Orientation Inventory indi-
cate an unrestricted sociosexual orientation (high permissiveness with regard to impersonal
sexual relationships). The Self-Monitoring Scale was included because there exists an
established association between unrestricted sociosexuality and high self-monitoring
(Simpson & Gangestad, 1991; Snyder, Simpson, & Gangestad, 1986). High self-monitors
are those who are adept at adjusting their emotional expressions to meet environmental
requirements. In order to demonstrate the relationship regarding the internal structure of
the construct, three popular subscales of the Self-Monitoring Scale were scored, based on
the factor analysis by Briggs et al. and the entire scale was scored as the sum of the three
subscale scores. The Shyness and Sociability Scale was included in order to assess social
presence and interpersonal assertiveness dimensions, which were reported to influence
interpersonal perception for assault victim selection (Myers et al., 1984). In order to
minimize reporting biases, inventories were set in the following order, beginning
with general personality trait questions and ending with personal, specific questions: the
NEO-FFI, the Shyness and Sociability Scale, the Self-Monitoring Scale, the Sociosexual
Orientation Inventory, and the frequency of being approached by strangers.
The walkers were not pre-selected on the basis of questionnaire scores. Of the 15
walkers, 6 women were frequently approached, 3 were rarely approached, and the
remaining 6 were moderately approached. The walkers’ reported sociosexuality was dis-
tributed among the restricted range of the larger population. Other personality scores were
widely distributed; the averages of the scores corresponded with and had generally larger
standard deviations than those in the questionnaire survey on female students of a larger
population (Sakaguchi & Hasegawa, in press).
After the filming and questionnaires were completed, the walkers were debriefed
regarding the aim of the study and were presented with a gift coupon worth approximately
$14.
Preparation of Stimuli
Moving images recorded by an 8-mm VCR were captured and stored in AVI digital files on
a Windows PC. The digital files were edited using Adobe Premiere 6.0. The sound was
eliminated and the pictures were converted into 29.97 fps, 640 ·480 pixel NTSC video
files. The brightness of the pictures was lowered, and the contrast was maximized. In order
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to obscure outlines of the reflective tapes and lessen information regarding individual
figure differences, blur effects were added to the pictures (Fig. 3).
Each film was zoomed so that the height of the walker occupied 90% of the screen
height. Individuals were on the screen field for an average of four and a half strides for one
way. For each walker, two video clips, that is, one video clip in which the walker walked
from right to left, and one in which the walker walked from left to right, were made. These
two clips were connected to make a clip in which the walker walked to and fro once.
Following this, three of the clips were connected to make a clip in which the walker walked
to and fro three times. This clip was used as the stimulus of one walker. The average length
of the 15 clips was 20.7 s, ranging from 16.0 to 25.0 s.
Each of these clips of the 15 walkers was randomly presented once to the male raters for
rating on the 20-inch CRT monitor. The presentation order was controlled by a program
that was developed using Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0. The video files were processed and
played on a Windows PC, Dell Dimension 8250 (Pentium 4 2.53 GHz, 768 Mb RAM).
Rating
The raters were 45 male undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Tokyo
(M age = 24.4, SD = 4.09, range: 18–36), who were recruited as raters in ‘‘a simple
experiment of person rating with filmed stimuli.’’ The raters were told that the experiment
was not intended to assess their moral character, and they were encouraged to give honest
responses based on how they genuinely felt. In order to protect the privacy of the raters,
names were not mentioned on the answer sheets. Ratings were conducted in groups of 1–2.
Walking stimuli were presented on the 20-inch CRT monitor, and the distance between the
display and the raters was 60–120 cm. The raters were forbidden to consult with each other.
In order to force the raters to rate choice likelihood and prevent them from merely
answering ‘‘no’’ with regard to all the walking targets, instructions to the raters were given
as follows: ‘‘Imagine that you are in a public place, for example, on the street or in a train,
and are on the verge of approaching an unacquainted woman. Do not worry about the
possibility of making such an advance in real life, but imagine that you have already made
Fig. 3 A shot of point-light
display of a walker as a stimulus
70 J Nonverbal Behav (2006) 30:63–85
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up your mind to do so. In such a situation, you have to select which woman to approach
because you cannot approach all the women on the site. Using a 7-point scale, from
1=definitely not,to7= definitely yes, rate the degree to which you are likely to select the
female walker on the screen.’’ The three rating conditions for which the likelihood of
selecting a target had to be judged were as follows: (a) conversing with a sexual intention,
(b) inappropriate body touching, and (c) asking for directions. Rating items were few and
to avoid confusion, the order of the questions was fixed as (a)–(c)–(b).
Before the main test, the gait stimuli of 6 walkers were presented successively as a trial
run in order to familiarize the raters with the stimuli and the tasks. In each rating session,
trial stimuli were randomly selected from 15 stimuli for the main test. In the main test, after
the stimulus of one walker was presented on the CRT monitor, the raters took as much time
as they wished to make their ratings on their questionnaire sheets. When all the raters in a
group had completed their ratings, they hit a key to proceed to the next stimulus. The
participation lasted for approximately 20 min.
Gait Parameters
Based on the works of Lemke, Wendorff, Mieth, Buhl, and Linnemann (2000), the major
gait parameters reported to affect person perception were calculated from the filmed
stimuli. The parameters were gait velocity (cm/s), cadence (steps/s), and stride length (cm).
In order to calculate the parameters, each video film used as a stimulus was zoomed so that
the point-light figure (from a marker on the head to markers on the ankles) occupied 100%
of the screen height. Subsequently, the stimulus sequence was divided into two parts, right
to left and left to right. The films were trimmed so that no blank sequences devoid of point-
light would remain. The duration(s) of each video clip was measured using Adobe Pre-
miere 6.0 up to two decimal places. The actual width of the screen field was calculated
from the self-reported height of each walker. The gait velocity was calculated from the
duration of a clip and the width of a field. With regard to cadence, the duration of three or
two steps was calculated using Premiere 6.0, and then divided to calculate the duration per
step, and was finally converted into cadence (steps/s). The start and end of one step were
defined as the points when both knees were extended to the maximum. The stride length
was calculated from the above two parameters, that is, velocity divided by cadence. In 11
out of the 15 walkers, difference in stride lengths calculated from a right to left clip and a
left to right clip was less than 1 cm, and in one walker, the difference was 1.6 cm. For the
other three walkers, the source of variation was examined on the video clips, and the
necessary adjustments were made. Following this, the averaged scores calculated from the
two-direction video clips were used as parameters.
Results
Statistical Characteristics of Rated Scores
For each of the three rating conditions, (a) as a target for conversation with sexual intent, (b) as
a target for inappropriate touching, and (c) as a target for asking directions, the inter-rater
reliability among the 45 raters was extremely high (Cronbach’s a;allas = .89). Therefore, in the
subsequent analyses, the average score of all the raters was used as the rated score for each item.
The walkers’ self-reported frequencies of being approached and some gait parameters
(particularly cadence) were not normally distributed; therefore, all subsequent correlational
analyses adopted Spearman’s rank correlation (two-tailed).
J Nonverbal Behav (2006) 30:63–85 71
123
Rated Choice Likelihood and the Targets’ Self-reported Frequencies of being Approached
(A in Fig. 1)
Walkers rated to be likely targets for conversing with also tended to be rated as likely
targets for inappropriate touching and for asking directions (q= .65, p= .008; q= .74,
p= .001, n= 15). On the other hand, the association between the rated choice likelihood
for inappropriate touching and for asking directions was not significant (q= .35, p= .20,
n= 15), indicating that the raters’ criteria for these two advances were less similar to each
other.
None of the male choice ratings for the three kinds of advances had significant corre-
lations with the female walkers’ self-reported frequencies of being approached in the three
kinds of advances (all ps > .21, see Table 1, upper portion).
Male Ratings for Choice Likelihood and the Targets’ Self-reported Personality Traits (B in
Fig. 1)
Correlations between the male ratings of choice likelihood and the walkers’ self-rated
personality trait scores were calculated (Table 2). Consistent findings across inventories
revealed that the female walkers rated to be likely targets for inappropriate touching
described themselves as neurotic, shy, low in self-monitoring, and not extraverted. The
likely targets for conversing with also described themselves as less extraverted (in the Self-
Monitoring Scale). In the nonsexual advance condition, no significant correlations were
observed between the male ratings of choice likelihood and the walkers’ self-rated per-
sonality traits.
Gait Parameters as Cues of a Walking Target, Rated Choice Likelihood, and the Targets’
Self-reported Frequencies of being Approached (C & C¢in Fig. 1)
Descriptive statistics of the 15 walkers’ gait parameters were as follows. The mean
velocity of walking speed was 85.4 cm/s, ranging from 66.2 to 107.2 cm/s. The mean
Table 1 Correlations between the likelihood of raters selecting a target for advances and walkers’
frequencies of being approached
Choice likelihood (male ratings) Frequencies of being approached (walkers’ self-ratings)
Conversing Touching Nonsexual
Point-light display rating (n= 15)
1. Conversing ).12 .07 ).26
2. Touching ).04 .25 ).35
3. Nonsexual ).06 .25 .03
Full-view display rating (n= 23)
1. Conversing .29 .53** .02
a
2. Touching .18 .52* .00
a
3. Nonsexual ).22 .15 .02
a
Note All values refer to Spearman’s rank correlations, two-tailed. This set of correlations corresponds to A
in Fig. 1. The point-light display ratings in the upper portion of the table are from Study 1, the full-view
display ratings in the lower portion of the table are from Study 2;
a
n= 22. Due to a missing value; *p< .05;
**p< .01
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cadence was 2.5 steps/s, ranging from 1.7 to 3.0 steps/s. The mean stride length was
35.9 cm, ranging from 23.2 to 57.8 cm. Stride length was positively correlated with
velocity (q= .60, p= .02, n= 15), and negatively correlated with cadence (q=).65,
p= .009, n= 15).
Table 3 indicates that the walkers with low velocity and a short stride length were rated
to be likely targets for sexual advances, particularly for inappropriate touching. However,
these gait characteristics were not related to the walkers’ self-reported frequencies of being
approached. On the contrary, the walkers who reported frequent nonsexual advances by
strangers tended to be fast walkers (Table 3).
Table 2 Correlations between the likelihood of raters selecting a target for advances and walkers’ self-
rated personality traits (n= 15)
Personality Choice likelihood (male-ratings)
Conversing Touching Nonsexual
SOI .10 ).11 .18
Self-monitoring
Whole scale ).32 ).59* .10
Acting ).32 ).49.09
Other-directedness .32 ).19 .43
Extraversion ).62* ).59* ).44
NEO-FFI
Neuroticism .20 .59* .30
Extraversion ).23 ).51* ).06
Openness
a
).32 ).20 ).09
Agreeableness ).11 ).29 ).07
Conscientiousness ).45).27 ).10
Shyness and sociability
Shyness .26 .55* .22
Sociability .00 ).04 ).14
Note All values refer to Spearman’s rank correlations, two-tailed. This set of correlations corresponds to B in
Fig. 1 and all results in this table are from Study 1; SOI: the Sociosexual Orientation Inventory;
a
n= 14;
p< .10; *p< .05
Table 3 Correlations between gait parameters and advances (n= 15)
Advance Gait parameter
Velocity Cadence Stride length
Choice likelihood (male ratings)
Conversing ).37 .06 ).46
Touching ).75** .10 ).70**
Nonsexual ).06 .07 ).35
Frequencies of being approached (walkers’ self-ratings)
Conversing .02 ).04 ).01
Touching ).02 ).21 ).06
Nonsexual .44.13 .20
Note All values refer to Spearman’s rank correlations, two-tailed. The set of correlations in the upper portion
of the table (choice likelihood/male ratings) corresponds to C in Fig. 1, the set of correlations in the lower
portion of the table (frequencies of being approached/walker’s self-ratings) corresponds to C’ in Fig. 1. All
results in this table are from Study 1; p< .10; **p< .01
J Nonverbal Behav (2006) 30:63–85 73
123
Gait Parameters as Cues of a Walking Target and the Target’s Self-reported Personality
Traits (D in Fig. 1)
Table 4 indicates that low velocity and short stride length are associated with self-rated
shyness and low self-monitoring. Smaller cadence is associated with unrestricted socio-
sexuality. The correlations were not significant with regard to the broader Five Personality
factors (NEO-FFI).
Discussion
Male student raters agreed in their judgment pertaining to which point-light walkers were
likely targets for each kind of advance. The results indicated that short video clips of gait
movement contained sufficient information for raters inferring the walkers’ traits, and the
raters shared criteria for target choice for each advance to a considerable extent. It was also
demonstrated that simple gait parameters such as velocity and stride length contain
information about some personality traits, especially those concerned with specific social
contexts. However, the raters’ judgments did not match with the targets’ self-reported
frequencies of being approached. The women who were selected as likely targets for
inappropriate touching based on the point-light display were those who self-rated them-
selves as neurotic, introverted, and shy. The raters selected slow walkers with a short stride
length as targets for sexual advances, especially for inappropriate touching, but these gait
cues did not correspond with the characteristics of the walkers who reported being ap-
proached frequently.
Overall, the results appear to correspond with the reports that the raters can distinguish
vulnerable looking, ‘‘easy victims’’ for assaults from the gait information of targets
(Grayson & Stein, 1981; Gunns et al., 2002; Murzynski & Degelman, 1996). Although this
research design does not allow us to estimate to what extent the raters used personality
inference in selecting likely targets, the personality profile of women who were rated as
likely targets for inappropriate touching (Table 2) corresponded to that of likely sexual
Table 4 Correlations between gait parameters and self-rated personality traits (n= 15)
Personality Gait parameter
Velocity Cadence Stride length
SOI ).21 ).64* .24
Self-monitoring
Whole scale .60* .10 .33
Acting .53* .33 .13
Other-directedness .19 ).20 .20
Extraversion .44 ).07 .50
NEO-FFI
Neuroticism ).41 .05 ).44
Extraversion .42 .30 .14
Openness .24 .25 .04
Agreeableness .14 .25 ).09
Conscientiousness .38 .44 ).00
Shyness and sociability
Shyness ).72** .03 ).50
Sociability ).05 .42 ).30
Note All values refer to Spearman’s rank correlations, two-tailed. This set of correlations corresponds to D
in Fig. 1 and all results in this table are from Study 1; p< .10; *p< .05; **p< .01
74 J Nonverbal Behav (2006) 30:63–85
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assault victims (Browne & Finkelhor, 1986; Finkelhor & Browne, 1985; Gidycz et al.,
1993; Murzynski & Degelman, 1996; White & Smith, 2001). However, approachers in real
life were not likely to be following the ‘‘victim’’ selection criteria in the relatively
common advances covered in this study.
Study 2
Method
Overview
Female walkers were filmed as naturally as possible as they walked down the street. They
answered the same questionnaire that was administered in Study 1. Preparation and pre-
sentation of target stimuli were also accomplished by following the same method used in
Study 1. The kinematic gait parameters in Study 1 were not used since it was difficult to
calculate them precisely from video clips filmed in a natural environment wherein the
position of a video camera was not fixed across the filming, and the influence of other
pedestrians could not be totally eliminated. Instead, general impressions of the walkers
rated by males were used to investigate the influence of physical appearance cues of a
target (VI in a Fig. 1) on the raters’ judgment.
Walkers
The walkers were 23 female undergraduate students from universities in Tokyo
(M = 19.09 years, SD = .67, range: 18–21). Of these, 14 walkers had also participated in
Study 1 as walkers. The filming took place in March and April 2003. An additional nine
walkers were recruited from the participants of the questionnaire surveys (Sakaguchi &
Hasegawa, in press) conducted in introductory psychology classes. Students who were
interested in participating in a related experiment filled in their names and contact ad-
dresses. Frequently approached and rarely approached women were targeted as recruitment
contacts. The video recording of these additional nine walkers was conducted in October
and November 2003. Among all the 23 walkers, 9 were frequently approached, 8 were
rarely approached, and 6 were moderately approached. Throughout the recruitment, the
experimenters were unaware of the scores of the other questionnaires of the prospective
walkers. Informed consent for participation was obtained in the same manner as Study 1.
During the video recording, the walkers were dressed in clothes and footwear that they
were accustomed to wearing. Due to the recording being conducted in spring and autumn,
the walkers were typically wearing a jacket or a half coat. They did not carry a bag, and did
not wear anything that could possibly hide their appearance or hinder their movement, for
example, a muffler. The recording site was a concourse in the vicinity of Shibuya station,
which is used by 1,380,000 people daily. It was located under the ceiling and was artifi-
cially illuminated such that the filming was not completely dependent on natural light. The
walkers were instructed to walk back and forth for a while between columns standing
6–10 m apart, until a view of their natural walk, unhindered by pedestrians, could be
filmed. Each walker’s entire side view was filmed from a fixed point at a distance of
approximately 5 m, at a height of 140 cm from the pavement with a hand-held video
camera. The camera did not pan to follow the movement of the walker.
J Nonverbal Behav (2006) 30:63–85 75
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Following the filming, the walkers answered a questionnaire pertaining to the frequency
with which they were approached and their personality traits (identical to that of Study 1)
in the university laboratory. When the filming and questionnaires were completed, the
participants were debriefed regarding the aim of the study and were presented with a gift
coupon worth approximately $14.
Preparation of Stimuli
Moving images recorded by an 8-mm VCR were captured and stored in AVI digital files on
a Windows PC. The digital files were edited using Adobe Premiere 6.0. The sound was
eliminated, and the pictures were converted into 29.97 fps, 640 ·480 pixel NTSC video
files. Video clips for stimuli were selected on the basis of the criteria that walkers were
walking smoothly, were familiarized with the filming situation, and that other pedestrians
did not cut across the view as far as possible. Brightness and saturation were adjusted in
order to obtain a balance among the video clips. Each film was zoomed so that the height of
a walker occupied 90% of the screen height. Under this condition, it was difficult to discern
facial details, but information pertaining to grooming, figures, and large features was
discernible. The films were processed in order to create the stimuli in accordance with
those utilized in Study 1, and each walker walked to and fro three times on the screen. The
average length of the 23 clips was 15.7 s, ranging from 11.0 to 21.0 s. Presentation of the
stimuli also followed the same method as that used in Study 1.
Rating
The raters were 53 male undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Tokyo
(M = 22.6 years, SD = 3.65, range: 18–33). The rating process was the same as that in
Study 1, except for the following factors. The ratings were conducted in groups of 1–4, and
with regard to each walking stimulus, after rating the probability of selecting a particular
walker as a target for advances, the raters also rated their general impressions and the
physical characteristics of that walker. Based on the work by Brown, Cash, and Noles
(1986), items were selected so that the subjects would rate characteristics that were likely
to affect the assessment of a woman, however, without directly connoting behavioral or
personality trait differences. Questions pertaining to these items were regarding (d) esti-
mated age, and the five additional 7-point scale questions were regarding (e) grooming
(1 = not fashionable,7=fashionable), (f) impression (1 = masculine, 7=feminine), (g)
posture (1 = bad, 7=good), (h) movement (1 = awkward, 7=smooth), and (i) physical
attractiveness (1 = not attractive, 7=attractive). The raters were instructed not to rate a
walker if she was an acquaintance. Among combinations of 23 walkers ·53 raters, ratings
were not performed only for one combination.
Results
Statistical Characteristics of Rated Scores
With regard to each of three rating conditions (a) as a target for conversing with, (b) as a
target for inappropriate touching, and (c) as a target for being asked for directions, inter-
rater reliability (Cronbach’s a) among 53 raters was .95, .93, and .88, respectively. With
regard to the six items pertaining to general impressions and physical appearance
76 J Nonverbal Behav (2006) 30:63–85
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characteristics, the values of awere all above .95. Consequently, in the subsequent anal-
yses, the average scores of all the raters were used as a rated score for each item.
The Influence of Bottom Clothing and Shoes on Male Ratings
The type of the walkers’ bottom clothing and footwear was reported to influence vulner-
ability impressions of gait (Gunns et al., 2002). Therefore, these effects on male ratings of
choice likelihood (I) and cues of a walking target (VI) were examined. When 6 walkers in
skirts and 17 walkers in slacks were compared, the walkers in skirts tended to be rated as
more likely targets for (b) inappropriate touching (t(21) = )1.81, p= .09, two-tailed), (d)
as being more aged (t(21) = )1.84, p= .08), and were rated as giving a more (f) feminine
impression (t(21) = )4.47, p= .0002). When 6 walkers in high heels and 17 walkers in
loafers were compared, the walkers in high heels were rated to be more likely targets for
(a) conversing with (t(21) = )2.54, p= .02), (b) inappropriate touching (t(21) = )3.14,
p= .005), and were more (e) fashionably groomed (t(21) = )2.83, p= .01), (f) more
feminine (t(21) = )3.98, p= .0007), and (i) physically attractive (t(21) = )2.63, p= .02).
The walkers’ self-reported frequencies of being approached were not significantly re-
lated with their bottom clothing and footwear.
Rated Choice Likelihood and the Targets’ Self-reported Frequencies of being Approached
(A in Fig. 1)
The rated likelihood of selecting a target for conversing with was similar to that of
selecting a target for inappropriate touching and for asking for directions (q= .88,
p< .0001; q= .45, p= .03, n= 23). However, the association between the rated likeli-
hood scores in the touching and in the asking for directions conditions was weaker
(q= .38, p= .07, n= 23).
The male-rated likelihood of selecting a target partially corresponded with the walkers’
self-reported frequencies of being approached. That is, walkers who were rated as likely
targets for sexual advances (conversing with and for inappropriate touching) reported
frequent experiences of being targets for inappropriate touching (Table 1, lower portion).
Other correlations were not significant at the .10 level.
Male Ratings of Choice Likelihood and the Targets’ Self-reported Personality Traits
(B in Fig. 1)
Contrary to the results in Study 1, no significant association was observed between the
male ratings of choice likelihood in the sexual advance conditions and the walkers’ self-
ratings of personality trait scores. On the other hand, positive correlations were observed
between the choice likelihood in the asking directions condition and the self-rated traits of
neuroticism and sociability (Table 5). These personality traits are expected to show
opposite characteristics, and inconsistent findings might have been due to chance.
Cues of a Walking Target, Rated Choice Likelihood, and the Targets’ Self-reported
Frequencies of being Approached (C & C¢in Fig. 1)
Table 6 indicates that the walkers who were rated as (e) fashionable in grooming, (f)
feminine in impression, and (i) physically attractive were rated to be likely targets for
J Nonverbal Behav (2006) 30:63–85 77
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sexual advances. These appearance cues correlated with the walkers’ self-reported fre-
quencies of being targets for sexual advances to some extent (Table 6).
Cues of a Walking Target and the Targets’ Self-rated Personality Traits (D in Fig. 1)
Contrary to the results in Study 1, few cues of the walking targets correlated with their self-
rated personality traits. The estimated age (d) had a positive correlation with other-
directedness in the Self-Monitoring Scale (q= .36, p= .10, n= 23) and a negative
correlation with openness (q=).40, p= .07, n= 23) and conscientiousness (q=).44,
p= .04, n= 23). Agreeableness had a negative correlation with (e) fashionable grooming
(q=).36, p= .09, n= 23) and (i) physical attractiveness (q=).38, p= .08, n= 23).
Table 5 Correlations between the likelihood of raters selecting a target for advances and walkers’
self-rated personality traits (n= 23)
Personality Choice likelihood (male ratings)
Conversing Touching Nonsexual
SOI .14 .15 .27
Self-monitoring
Whole scale .02 ).12 ).13
Acting .25 .12 ).16
Other-directedness ).04 ).08 ).09
Extraversion ).16 ).24 ).08
NEO-FFI
Neuroticism .09 .13 .44*
Extraversion
a
).15 ).18 .08
Openness
a
).02 ).17 .21
Agreeableness ).35 ).20 ).03
Conscientiousness ).05 ).13 .12
Shyness and sociability
Shyness .16 .32 .00
Sociability .21 .19 .44*
Note All values refer to Spearman’s rank correlations, two-tailed. This set of correlations corresponds to B in
Fig. 1 and all results in this table are from Study 2;
a
n= 22; *p< .05
Table 6 Correlations between appearance cues and advances (n= 23)
Advance Appearance cues
Age Grooming Feminine Posture Movement Attractive
Choice likelihood (male ratings)
Conversing ).10 .89**** .67*** .54** .39.94****
Touching ).04 .70*** .75**** .29 .18 .85****
Nonsexual ).48* .26 .10 .41.41.29
Frequencies of being approached (walkers’ self-ratings)
Conversing .14 .35 .47* .05 ).27 .27
Touching ).11 .41.38.03 ).18 .44*
Nonsexual
a
).15 ).08 .11 ).11 ).11 ).03
Note All values refer to Spearman’s rank correlations, two-tailed. The set of correlations in the upper portion
of the table (choice likelihood/male ratings) corresponds to C in Fig. 1, the set of correlations in the lower
portion of the table (frequencies of being approached/walker’s self-ratings) corresponds to C’ in Fig. 1. All
results in this table are from Study 2;
a
n= 22; p< .10; *p< .05; **p< .01; ***p< .001; ****p< .0001
78 J Nonverbal Behav (2006) 30:63–85
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C, C¢, and D after Controlling for the Fashionableness of Grooming
As demonstrated in Table 6, (e) fashionable grooming, (f) feminine impression, and (i)
physical attractiveness of a walking target were strongly related to the raters’ choices of the
targets for sexual advances. The scores of these three cues were positively intercorrelated;
fashionable grooming and physical attractiveness in particular, had a strong correlation
(q= .89, p< .0001, n= 23), indicating that these two cues that were answered to in the
items of this study were extremely similar. Grooming is a variable that can be more easily
manipulated than physical attractiveness. Therefore, partial correlation coefficients after
statistically controlling grooming scores were calculated in C, C¢, and D in order to examine
person perception in natural conditions using cues other than grooming/physical attrac-
tiveness. Table 7 (C) indicates that the association between a feminine impression and
physical attractiveness with likelihood for sexual advances still remained. The association
between these cues and the walkers’ self-reported frequencies of being approached was no
longer significant (below, C¢). Poor posture of a walker (g) was related to a higher male
rating of choice likelihood and the walkers’ self-reported frequencies of being targets for
inappropriate touching. Another association that emerged was between (h) awkwardness of
movement and walkers’ self-reported frequencies of being targets for sexual advances.
With regard to the association between cues of a walking target and the walker’s self-
rated personality traits (D), only one new correlation was found to be significant, that is, (i)
physical attractiveness of a target, which was negatively correlated with unrestricted so-
ciosexuality (q=).47, p= .03, n= 23).
Predicting Factors (III, VI) of the Self-reported Frequencies of Unexpected Advances (II)
Correlational analyses revealed that physical appearance cues assessed in this study
exercised a large influence on male ratings of choice likelihood of a walking target, (C) and
to some extent, on the walkers’ self-reported frequencies of being approached (C¢). On the
other hand, they had little relationship with the walkers’ self-reported personality traits (D).
However, with regard to utilizing personality cues for target choice, males who approach
females in real life may be using other cues of a walking target than the ones assessed in
this study. Therefore, in order to identify the explanatory variables among physical
appearance cues (VI) and self-rated personality traits (III) so as to predict the targets’
Table 7 Correlations between appearance cues and advances: Grooming partialed out (n= 23)
Advance Appearance cues
Age Grooming Feminine Posture Movement Attractive
Choice likelihood (male ratings)
Conversing ).33 – .40).21 ).17 .71***
Touching ).12 – .59** ).36).29 .72***
Nonsexual ).51* – ).07 .33 .33 .13
Frequencies of being approached (walkers’ self-ratings)
Conversing .13 – .35 ).28 ).55** ).10
Touching ).15 – .19 ).37).50* .19
Nonsexual
a
).15 – .21 ).07 ).08 .27
Note All values refer to Spearman’s rank correlations, two-tailed. The set of correlations in the upper portion
of the table (choice likelihood/male ratings) corresponds to C in Fig. 1, the set of correlations in the lower
portion of the table (frequencies of being approached/walker’s self-ratings) corresponds to C’ in Fig. 1. All
results in this table are from Study 2;
a
n= 22; p< .10; *p< .05; **p< .01; ***p< .001
J Nonverbal Behav (2006) 30:63–85 79
123
self-reported frequencies of being approached (II), stepwise multiple regression analyses
were performed. The independent variable candidates were specifically the six appearance
cues, the sociosexual orientation index, whole scale self-monitoring, five factors of the
NEO-FFI, and Shyness, and Sociability scores. Among these, (e) fashionable grooming and
(i) physical attractiveness were extremely similar to each other and were not put into a
regression model simultaneously. Whole scale self-monitoring and extraversion in the
NEO-FFI were also extremely similar to each other (q= .73, p< .0001, n= 23) and were
treated in the same manner.
Table 8 indicates the best regression models for the self-reported frequencies of being a
target for each kind of advance. Self-monitoring and (f) feminine impression were the best
predictors of the frequency of being a target for conversing with sexual intentions. Fem-
inine impression was a cue similar to (e) fashionable grooming and (i) physical attrac-
tiveness (q= .59, p< .003; q= .64, p< .0009, n= 23), but was more influenced by the
type of the bottom clothing and footwear worn by the walkers. In the case of predicting the
frequency of being a target for inappropriate touching, no independent variable was a
significant predictor by itself, but because of some interactive effects, there were combi-
nations of predictors that comprised a regression model approaching significance. They
were (e) fashionable grooming and (h) smooth movement (presented in Table 8), or (i)
physical attractiveness and (h) smooth movement (R
2
= .25, F= 3.34, p= .06). In the case
of predicting the frequency of being a target for nonsexual advances, the independent
variables were extraversion (presented in Table 8) or whole scale self-monitoring. In this
sample, the explanatory power of whole scale self-monitoring was somewhat lower
(R
2
= .29, F= 8.02, p= .01) than that of extraversion.
Discussion
In the full-view display condition, male raters greatly relied on grooming and physical
attractiveness cues in judging likely targets for sexual advances. This criterion matched the
targets’ self-reported frequencies of being approached with respect to inappropriate
touching; however, it did not match with the reported frequencies of being conversed with.
The type of bottom clothing and footwear (especially footwear) worn by the walkers when
they were filmed considerably influenced the male raters’ judgment, but that was not
significantly related to the walkers’ self-reported frequency of being approached. The
extent to which women’s daily clothing habits influence the frequency of experiencing
sexual advances by strangers still remains to be examined.
Table 8 The best regression models for variables predicting walkers’ frequencies of being approached
Frequencies of being approached B SE B bpValue
Conversing (n= 23)
Self-monitoring .24 .09 .46 .01
Feminine .32 .14 .39 .04
Touching (n= 23)
Grooming .47 .19 .57 .02
Smooth movement ).48 .23 ).47 .05
Nonsexual (n= 22)
Extraversion (NEO-FFI) 1.57 .48 .59 < .01
Note All results in this table are from Study 2. Conversing with: R
2
= .40, F= 6.72, p= .006; Inappropriate
touching: R
2
= .25, F= 3.36, p= .06; Nonsexual advance: R
2
= .35, F= 10.65, p= .004
80 J Nonverbal Behav (2006) 30:63–85
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Contrary to the results in Study 1, the personality traits of walking targets had little
association with the raters’ judgments. Further, the physical appearance cues used in this
study had a negligible relationship with the targets’ self-rated personality traits, suggesting
that the judgment of the raters who were allowed to use only movement cues (Study 1) had
a greater concordance with the personality cues of walking targets.
When grooming or physical attractiveness cues were statistically controlled, the asso-
ciation between behavioral cues and the walkers’ self-reported frequencies of being a
target for sexual advances emerged (Table 8); a high frequency of being a target for sexual
advances was associated with awkwardness in movement. Awkwardness in movement was
neither influenced by the type of bottom clothing or footwear worn by the walkers (skirts or
slacks, t(21) = ).09, p= .93; high heels or loafers, t(21) = ).94, p= .35), nor was it
related with the walkers’ self-rated personality traits. Feminine body shape or movement,
independent of clothing styles, is one possible candidate that provided the impression of
awkward movement. In the zero-order correlation, male ratings of feminine impression of
the walkers were unrelated to the movement impression (q=).00, p= .98, n= 23).
However, when the effect of grooming or physical attractiveness was statistically con-
trolled, the relationship that emerged was that the walkers who gave a higher feminine
impression were rated to be awkward in movement (qs=).44, ps = .04, n= 23). On the
other hand, awkward walkers tended to be slow walkers in a natural social environment
(video clip length versus smoothness of movement, q=).46, p= .03, n= 23). Closer
investigation would reveal the sources and kinematic characteristics of walkers’ awkward
movement and feminine impressions.
When predicting variables of the walkers’ self-reported frequencies of unexpected
advances were explored, among physical appearance cues (VI) and self-rated personality
traits (III), the latter significantly contributed toward explaining the frequency of being a
target for conversing with and nonsexual advances; however, with regard to inappropriate
touching, physical appearance cues had more explanatory power. The predicting models
constructed in this study were in accordance with the results of the larger-scale ques-
tionnaire surveys (Sakaguchi & Hasegawa, in press), although interpretation of the results
should be tentative due to the small number of target walkers and limited independent
variable candidates. Among the walkers in the current study, the sociosexual orientation
index (the only behavioral variable not distributed as widely as in the larger population)
was not related to self-monitoring scores or to the frequency of being approached. How-
ever, the association between self-monitoring and extraversion with the frequency of being
approached for conversing with and nonsexual advances was replicated. It has been re-
ported that individuals with an unrestricted sociosexual orientation tend to be high self-
monitors (Simpson & Gangestad, 1991; Snyder et al., 1986). This study suggests that a
higher self-monitoring trait is associated with a higher rate of advances by strangers and
that even when women may not be inviting them, the advances can lead to unrestricted
sociosexual behavior. However, this study was unable to identify high self-monitoring cues
from the gait video clips.
General Discussion
The two studies investigated whether male student raters’ judgment of female walkers
concerning their choice likelihood for various kinds of advances matches the frequencies
of advances reported by the walkers. In the point-light display condition (Study 1), the
raters’ judgments on which walkers were likely targets for advances did not match the
J Nonverbal Behav (2006) 30:63–85 81
123
targets’ self-reported frequencies of being approached (A). The walkers’ personality traits
that were likely to be associated with target choices in real life (B¢) were manifested in
simple gait parameters (D); however, women who were rated as likely targets for inap-
propriate touching based on gait cue information (C) had vulnerable personality traits (B),
the criteria that was not concordant with the real life target choice reported by women (B¢).
On the other hand, in the full-view display condition (Study 2), the raters’ judgments
matched with the targets’ self-reported frequencies of being approached with regard to
sexual advances (A). It was unlikely that the raters used personality inferences in selecting
likely targets for sexual advances (B). Instead, they were more likely to use physical
appearance cues like grooming (C). These physical appearance cues had a negligible
relationship with the walkers’ personality traits examined in this study (D). A noteworthy
finding was that after controlling for grooming or physical attractiveness cues, awkward
movement impression of the walkers was found to be related to the walkers’ self-reported
frequencies of being a target for sexual advances (C’).
In summary, the two studies demonstrated that person perception through nonverbal
behavioral cues of gait were capable of influencing strangers’ target selections for various
advances. However, nonverbal behavioral target choice in the experimental conditions did
not match the real life choice of an individual who makes advances. The point-light display
of targets caused the raters to focus on kinematic gait information. This resulted in the
raters selecting walkers who gave the impression of vulnerability as targets for inappro-
priate touching (sexual offense occurring rather recurrently). However, the reported fre-
quencies of being a target were related more closely to grooming/physical attractiveness
cues, that is, sexual desirability information. In contrast, the full-view display of targets
caused the raters to focus on sexual desirability information (grooming/physical attrac-
tiveness) in the sexual advance conditions; however, the self-reported frequencies of being
a target for conversing with were more strongly linked with personality traits related to
general approachability and sexual accessibility (extraversion or self-monitoring). These
results demonstrate that even among unexpected or unwanted sexual advances, individuals
who initiate these in real life utilize different cues in different kinds of encounters.
Moreover, the current study indicates that the results obtained in experimental ratings may
not reliably capture such criteria differences. Specifically, committers of certain kinds of
sexual offenses may not place so much significance on the impression of vulnerability of
targets as non-committers would expect, although they may be utilizing other nonverbal
cues such as awkwardness of movement. The personality traits of a target woman were
indicated to be important predicting variables of the actual occurrence of sexual encounters
with intentions of short-term sexual relationships, although raters who were not in an actual
selecting situation tended to imagine that women’s physical attractiveness is the pre-
dominant factor. This result will provide new insight into human mate choice studies in
ecological contexts, although it should be taken into consideration that the analyses might
have underestimated the importance of physical attractiveness, owing to the lack of de-
tailed features in full-view stimuli (Study 2).
The present studies were unable to specify how personality traits like self-monitoring or
extraversion affect sexual encounter occurrences; however, past studies have suggested
that differences in these traits appear prominently in actual encounters that are more
socially stimulating (Ickes & Barnes, 1977; Lippa, 1978), with high self-monitors being
behaviorally responsive to environmental mood or to others’ expectations (for a review,
Gangestad & Snyder, 2000). Individuals who make such advances in real life may be
utilizing such cues of a walker by unconsciously responding to the approachers’ signals.
82 J Nonverbal Behav (2006) 30:63–85
123
Kinematic gait characteristics such as velocity, cadence, stride length, and awkward
movement impression were found to be related to target choice in experiments and in real
life. These were characteristics that have also been mentioned in past research on victim
selection ratings or the manifestation of emotional disorders in gait. Study 1 in this paper
demonstrated that fast walkers were high self-monitors and were not shy (Table 4). They
reported frequent nonsexual advances by strangers (Table 3) and the raters were unlikely
to select them as sexual advance targets (Table 3). Smaller cadence was correlated with
unrestricted sociosexuality (Table 4), although further investigation is required to assure
this relationship because the association was rather isolated from other findings and the
walkers’ sociosexuality was not widely distributed as expected. Awkward movement
impression was a behavioral cue related with the self-reported frequency of being a target
for sexual advances (Table 7, lower portion), and the awkwardness was also related with a
feminine impression and slow walking speed in a natural social environment. Further
examination of the relationship among these gait parameters, feminine impression,
behavioral traits of walkers, and experiences in real life encounters in larger samples is
expected to provide insights into this field of research.
Appendix 1
The frequency distribution of women’s having been sexually approached. A: n= 451, B:
n= 449 for the span of before entering high school, and n= 450 for the span of after
entering high school.
Acknowledgements This research project was partly supported by the Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Re-
search on Scientific Research (C) ‘‘Gender’’ (No. 1611272), from the Ministry of Education, Culture,
Sports, Science and Technology of Japan.
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