Power of Persuasion: Look Younger by Moving

December 15th, 2010 by Frank Damelio

Look Younger by Moving

Standing in church I look over at my 4 year-old boy to see his body in continual motion.  His head turns left, then right and then he looks at the ceiling.  He puts his hand on his head, he leans back then forward.  Maybe I should have been listening to the sermon, but I couldn’t help to start counting how many seconds before Nicky moves again.  I couldn’t get past two.  Then I look at my eight-year old.  He moves around, but not quite as much.  I could count to ten before his head turns and his body shifted then five seconds later he puts his hands on the pew in front of him.  I started looking at other people.  Right in front of me was a man and his wife, both around seventy years old.  One of them moved only once in the first ninety seconds.  The rest of that time they appeared frozen in place. 

This got me thinking.  Is there a correlation between movement and age, and if so could a person use movement to appear more youthful?

For the following two months, we observed over 300 people in public places in the following age categories: kids, teens, twenties, forties, and sixties.  A head-turn, look at a watch, posture change, gesture, etc. qualified as making a move.  I only analyzed people in listening situations or alone, because when people talk they are far more animated.  Here are the results measured in moves per minute (MPM):

The older people grow, the less they move and shift.  Morbid as it appears, it is a natural progression towards death.  How does movement affect how others perceive you?

Likability is one of the six pillars of persuasion.  When studying the most likable people, one common denominator is that they nod and make facial expressions as they react to other people talking to them.  An observation made in this study showed that the older people grow, the less they externally react to others.  This may have a negative impact on how they connect.  Dale Carnegie said it best, “Be interesting by being interested”.

What about appearing younger?  After analyzing the chart above, we decided to test whether movement makes people appear younger. We asked people to watch a twenty-five-year-old woman for a minute and then guess her age.  In some circumstances she would move only once during the minute; in others, she would move ten times.  Here are the results:

1   MPM:         average perceived age: 22 years old

10 MPM:         average perceived age: 19.5 years old

Next we tried the experiment with me (age 43).  Here are the results based on 48 respondents:

1 MPM:           average perceived age: 40.7 years old

10 MPM:         average perceived age: 38.4 years old

You look younger when you move.  Movement requires energy and energy is associated with youth.  Lethargy is associated with age and decline.

The point of this blog is to remind us of how loudly our body language speaks to others.  Chances are if you allow yourself to be more animated you will be perceived as more likeable and a bit younger.  And, if it works for you, you can thank Jake and Nicky for their bouncy behavior in Church.

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12 Responses to “Power of Persuasion: Look Younger by Moving”

  1. Harry Says:

    Very interesting as always Frank. Guess my 10 year old is really about 3.

  2. Debbie Gregoire-Lefebvre Says:

    Very valuable information.

  3. Tom Spillane Says:

    Who knew? Thanks for the great information, Frank. I’ll be sure to share with with my gray-haired colleagues!

  4. Lisa Kirby Gibbs Says:

    This is great info Frank. So I guess all that nervous twitching and hair twirling that I do is just a sign of youth…
    I also know from research regarding first impressions and job interviews, that body language carries anywhere from 60 to 75% of the influence as to whether a good impression is made and the candidate passes on the the next round.

    So keep on movin’!

  5. Doris Klietmann Says:

    This is very interesting – I will move more from now on :-)

  6. Venkat Says:

    Thanks for sharing this Info Frank which made me to read and think! Be active and be moving like teens \ Kids.. don’t be lethargic \ lazy.

  7. Lily Smiley Says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this very interesting and valuable blog. Your insight is amazing. Thanks!!

  8. Tony Says:

    Great article. I have read recently that moving briskly is something that leaders naturally do. This adds weight to my resolution to move more.

    Thanks Frank.

  9. siobhan Says:

    Hi Frank,
    Movement is linked to brain development. Kids that “can’t sit still”, can’t sit still ,their brain needs them to move. It all makes sense, until we put our kids in education that instructs them to sit still and learn!
    Have fun with your day. Siobhan

  10. Wendy Merron Says:

    What a great insight. This would be great for a psychology graduate student to turn into some real measurable research. I specialize in helping eliminate the subconscious fear of speaking in public. (After clients see me then they can improve their performance much more easily – esp. when the fear is gone.)

    I’m wondering how your observations apply to those who are afraid of speaking. Can simply moving more jump start the process of overcoming the fear? Just a thought…

  11. Alejandro Tornato Says:

    Frank, yet another winner!!!Great topic, of course, very good insight into this subject. We live in a world in motion, so what is the point of being lethargic, let us get right into the world’s bit and keep on moving, not just moving but let us be enthusiastically energetic beings!!!!If we are passionate about life, we should be movers and shakers.
    Take care and Happy Christmas and New Year from Salt Lake City, Utah to everybody!!!!

  12. Cynthia Says:

    I’m 41 and I think I move around alot to keep awake and more vibrant. When I’m in a meeting, I tend to zone out and focus on other things. Once I move around a bit, I tend to come alive and redirect my thinking towards the activity taking place. What I’m saying is that I’m getting old… ; )

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