Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Walking Speed Has Opposite Influence on Social Standing, Study Finds

Scientists have put to rest the myth that if you walk faster or louder, you will seem more important.
In fact, you may illicit the opposite response and be seen as a complete lack-wit who has no control over his own life.
In a recent study on the effects of nonverbal cues among office workers, participants were asked to rate the importance of a person only by the sound of their footsteps.
The subjects, whose occupations ranged from CEO to mail sorter, were given shoes with hard rubber soles (men) or high heels (women) and asked to walk at their own pace toward a ringing telephone at the end of a 30-foot linoleum hallway.
Of those who walked faster, 100% were perceived as "arrogant," "late," or "just damned annoying."
In contrast, 100% of those who walked at a slower pace were thought to be "with it," "totally on top of things," or "trustworthy," regardless of shoe squeakiness.
Shufflers were considered a scientific anomaly and were excluded from the study.
An unexpected outcome of the study was the high rate of listeners who reported that the sound of someone walking fast increased their own heart rate, which suggests that the body's metabolism could be increased just by sitting near someone who is actually moving. Further study involving gyms and recliners is already underway.
The study's findings will be published in an upcoming issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.


Stein said...

Back when I was doing computer work at my main job, you could easily hear people walking by the outside of our office, amplified by the way the floor was constructed. There were two people that I always knew exactly who it was going by, due to their hard, pounding footsteps. One was the President of our factory, and the other was the CFO. It always amazed me, because these were both healthy, active, and athletic men. I felt that their footsteps should therefor be lighter and graceful, instead of driven and plodding. It was most certainly because of their personality, or maybe they read somewhere that important people walk around like Frankenstein. I couldn't help but wonder how hard it was on their knees to stomp around like that all the time.

sharby71 said...

I think further study should be done on the impact of perceived sense of self-importance on walking pace/volume. I think that is more likely where you will find a stronger connection.

John said...

There's definitely enough of it where I work. On a good day, people run. It's quite unbelievable, you'd think the building was on fire.