Assessment of physical strength from gait: data from the Maasai of Tanzania
In industrialized societies, male gait provides information about physical strength. Male physical strength may be used by men and women to assess the fighting ability of rivals and the quality of potential mates, respectively. Women more than men discriminate between strong and weak walkers when assessing gait attractiveness. We presented videos of British men’s gait—pre-categorized into strong and weak walkers—to male and female members (n 1⁄4 100) of the traditional Maasai in northern Tanzania in Africa. Maasai men and women judged the gaits of physically strong men less attractive than those of weak men and judged strong walkers to be weaker than weak walkers. These findings counter results from industrialized societies where participants accurately assessed strength from gait, thus arguing against a universal perception of physical strength from gait information.