If you want to know people’s personalities, you can do so by simply observing their body movements. The study published on March 23 in the journal Interface states that a person has an individual motor signature that dictates the speed and weight of his movements, thus revealing his personality.

Moreover, the University of Bristol, Montpellier University, University of Naples Federico II and the University of Exeter’s research team found that those people who have the same character traits actually move their bodies in the same way. They say that individuals with similar body movements tend to show organised collective behaviour.

This blueprint of subtle differences was observed by asking the study participants to play a plain mirror game where two players imitated each other’s body movements. They discovered that body movements can provide a unique insight into a person’s inherent personality traits and those with similar personalities apparently moved in the same way.

“Although human movement has been well studied, what is far less well understood is the differences each of us displays when we move – whether it is faster, or lighter, or smoother for example,” says Krasimira Tsaneva-Atanasova, a professor at the University of Exeter. “This study shows that people who move in a certain way will also react in similar ways when they are performing joint tasks. Essentially, our movements give an insight into our inherent personality traits.

Additionally, the team hopes that these findings could somehow provide valuable information about an individual’s mental health condition. Through this, experts can create customise mental health problem assessment techniques, diagnosis and treatments.

“What we demonstrate is that people typically want to react and interact with people who are similar to themselves. But what our study also shows is that movement gives an indication of a person’s behavioural characteristics,” concludes Tsaneva-Atanasova. “This could therefore be used in the future to help diagnose patients with certain conditions by studying how they move and react to others.”