Something in the way she moves

Can you tell gender by nothing but the sway of the walk? And if the answer is yes, how exactly do you do it? How does one dissect the gestalt of the gait? The BioMotion Lab (split between Ruhr University in Germany and Queen’s University in Ontario) is focusing research on “perception of biological motion as a major source of social information.” That’s an altogether worthy goal in itself, but check out some of the research in the lab. Meghan is studying gait and the female menstrual cycle (who knew?). Emma is interested in sexually dimorphic behaviour including courtship and mate choice. Laura, more prosaically, is simply studying head-bobbing in pigeons. Are humans really just doing one of those zany dancing grebe things?

The niftiest thing they have on their site is BioMotionLab1.6, or 15 points of gender-specific light. As they say, it

demonstrates that biologically and socially relevant information about a person is conveyed in biological motion patterns. It allows you to manipulate a number of parameters controlling the characteristics of human walking. You can interactively change biological properties, personality traits and emotional expression of a point-light walker.

Make a sad heavy nervous man and see if it reminds you of Chris Farley.

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