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Men Slow Down For Female 'Friends'

Emily Mae Czachor |
October 24, 2013 | 3:24 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

A new study reveals that men decrease their walking speed to accommodate female love interests (Emily Mae Czachor)
A new study reveals that men decrease their walking speed to accommodate female love interests (Emily Mae Czachor)
A casual stroll may bear more meaning than we realize. A Los Angeles Times article discusses a new study that explores the subconscious reasoning behind changes in walking paces.

The study, published Wednesday by the online journal PLOS One, was conducted by University of Washington anthropologist, Cara M. Wall-Scheffler, and Seattle Pacific University biologist, Janelle Wagnild. 

The research dictates that both males and females possess an "optimal walking speed," which minimizes the amount of energy that one must expend per a certain distance. The study revealed that a man's optimal speed is much higher than that of a woman's. However, it appears that, when in the presence of a potential female love interest, a man is willing to decrease the frequency of his comfortable stride in order to accommodate the woman. Such an adjustment is not implemented in the company of just anyone.

According to Wagnild and Wall-Scheffler, a shared walk between friends of opposite genders results in a compromise of speeds. The study showed that females slightly increase their speeds and males slightly decrease their speeds in order to find a common medium.

Conversely, communal walks between individuals of the same gender prompt an exacerbated version of gendered walking characteristics. Walks between female friends cause the women to significantly slow down their walk to a reduced, leisurely pace. Men, on the other hand, compete with one another at an uncomfortably rapid speed toward their destination. 

In examining the interaction between males and their female love interests, Wall-Scheffler and Wagnild found that men decreased their walking speeds even further when holding hands with the women beside them.

The study draws conclusions about the possible subconscious reasoning behind these actions. The basis of this interaction may lie in the primitive necessity of women to conserve energy in order to provide greater opportunity for child rearing and raising. Wall-Scheffler commented on this deduction in her interview with the Los Angeles Times. 

"By men slowing down, the female reproduction is protected, and that's not something that is trivial," said Wall-Scheffler. So, in a sense, the man is protecting his love interest's ability to ideally reproduce. 

A confusing outlier response to the study was made apparent by the walking patterns of college students. Wall-Scheffler and Wagnild observed them walking around a track at a public park. The students displayed walking patterns consistent with the findings in the research study, with the exception of females, who remarkably sped up their walking pace in order to match that of their male friends.

These students are not under the same underlying reproductive strain as romantically involved men and women. Wall-Scheffler asserts the likelihood that these interactions are a result of "an evolutionary outcome" that has manifested in walking patterns amongst men and women. 

Reach Staff Reporter Emily Mae Czachor here



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