Humans are highly social creatures who use others’ movements to evaluate their social competencies. Smooth movement specifically signals an attractive, trustworthy or competent person. Those with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), have peer relationship difficulties and lower sociometric preference scores. However, the relationship of perception of poor movement coordination to stereotyping has not been directly demonstrated.
We aimed to describe typically developing individuals’ social stereotyping of individuals with and without DCD from minimal visual cues.
3D motion capture tracked the movement of four ‘targets’ (two adult males with DCD and two male controls) in a variety of everyday scenarios. Kinematic footage of the target’s movements was presented as a point-light-display to 319 typically developing adults who used The Rating Scale of Social Competence to report perceptions of the target’s social competencies.
Targets with DCD were rated as having significantly lower social competence (M = 3.37, SD = 0.93) than controls (M = 3.46, SD = 0.89) t(269) = -5.656; p < 0.001, Cohen's d = 0.34.
Humans incorporate minimal information on movement fluency to evaluate others’ social competencies, including individuals with DCD. Such stereotyping may be automatic and may be an ill-understood mechanism sustaining persistent rejection by peers for individuals with DCD and higher rates of loneliness, isolation and mental disorders. In addition, our study expands research on competence-based stereotyping to a new applied domain, confirming the minimal cues needed to initiate stereotyping of the competencies of others.
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