The mashed potato, the hustle, the running man–you may think your funky chicken is just some fun cutting-the-rug, but scientists claim that there’s more to your windmill arms than meets the eye.
Dr Geoff Luck of the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland, leader of the research, said: “Music is known to evoke strong emotions in people and emotions can be expressed through bodily movement. People use body motions as reliable indicators of others’ personality types, and even the movements of robots have been shown to elicit attributes of ‘personality’ by observers.”
Dr Peter Lovatt, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, said dancing and movement transmit messages about the way people are feeling and thinking, which has its routes deep in our evolutionary history. He adds, “There is a common train of thought that dancing is related to sexual selection and is part of the mate selection process.”
The researchers poured over the dance moves of 60 volunteers who had been selected from 900 people who underwent personality tests. The dancers were picked due to having strong scores in one of the five main personality traits being studied. Each of the volunteers were asked to dance to 30 different tracks from six different genres of music – rock, techno, Latin, jazz, funk and pop.
Next: What the researchers found
Extroverted people move their bodies around most on the dance floor, often with energetic and exaggerated movements of their head and arms. Rock music tended to bring out stereotypical headbanging moves, particularly among those with an extrovert personality.
Neurotic individuals dance with sharp, jerky movements of their hands and feet – a style that might be recognised by clubbers and wedding guests as the “shuffle.” Rock music appeared to be the only genre that brought neurotics out of their shells; otherwise they tended to make small, nervous movements.
Agreeable people tend to have smoother dancing styles, making use of the dance floor by moving side to side while swinging their hands. Agreeable individuals seemed to move around more confidently than the others during Latin music.
Open-minded people tend to make rhythmic up-and-down movements, and did not move around as much as most of the others. Those with open-minded personalities seem to make more rhythmical limb movements than anyone else during techno music.
Conscientious or Dutiful
Conscientious or dutiful dancers move around the dance floor a lot, and also moved their hands over larger distances than other dancers. conscientious participants changed from moving around the dance floor to making smaller jerkier movements while listening to techno music.