Markus Koppensteiner

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2016/2017
discipline Psychology
Post Doc Researcher, Department of Anthropology/Human Behavior Research, University of Vienna

Research project

Body Motion has an Impact: Simple Motion Cues from Politicians’ Body Movements Affect People’s Impressions


Appearance cues and nonverbal behaviors affect people’s first impressions. This has an impact on many domains of social life. Photographs of political candidates can be even used to predict hypothetical and actual election outcomes. Moreover, motion cues and body motion are important carriers of social information that influences people’s judgements of politicians making a speech.


By applying computer algorithms for processing visual input (e.g., optical flow) I intend to reduce the workload of behavior encoding and make analyses of body motion cues applicable to a wider range of research questions. The aims of the planned project are as follows: (i) integrating new software solutions for the processing of video material into the computer program I have already developed, (ii) testing the accuracy and the applicability of these tools by comparing it with human encoded stimulus material that has been created in previous studies, (iii) testing if new tools capture enough motion information to use them as predictors for people’s judgements, (iv) applying motion capture tools to longer sequences of video material to examine, for instance, whether speakers show similar patterns of motion at different occasions, (v) applying motion capture tools to videos of candidates that run for public office, thereby testing to what extent body can serve as a predictor of audience reactions and first impressions.


Although the planned project has a focus on method development it mainly aims to deepen the understanding of how motion cues embedded in the behavioral stream (e.g., velocity, amplitude, variation etc.) affect person perception. It will uncover patterns of relations that are difficult to capture with traditional methods of behavior description. Moreover, it will provide new insights about the parsimony of nonverbal information people use to form first impressions.


This will also raise questions about how people process nonverbal information. The flood of information that people are confronted with nowadays imposes a cognitive load. Hence, people may act as cognitive misers and show a tendency to take mental shortcuts when making decisions. Such a situation enhances the probability that people rely on snap judgments, because nonverbal and salient cues more easily grab the people’s attention than other information. To know more about the processing of nonverbal information may thus help to better understand how people choose their leaders.




Markus Koppensteiner has been a Postdoctoral Researcher and Project Leader of an Austrian Science Fund (FWF) funded project at the Department of Anthropology / Human Behavior Research of the University of Vienna. He holds a Ph.D in Biology and Human Ethology from that very university. His research interests are in behavioral sciences, person perception, nonverbal communication, and body motion.


Selected publications


'Shaking Takete and Flowing Maluma: Non-Sense Words Are Associated with Motion Patterns', with P. Stephan & J.P.M. Jäschke, PLOS ONE [online journal], vol. 11, no. 3, <>, published 3 Mars 2016.

'Moving Speeches: Dominance, Trustworthiness and Competence in Body Motion', with P. Stephan & J.P.M. Jäschke, Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 94, 2016, pp. 101-106.

'More than Words: Judgments of Politicians and the Role of Different Communication Channels', with P. Stephan & J.P.M. Jäschke, Journal of Research in Personality, vol. 58, 2015, pp. 21-30.


'Motion Cues that Make an Impression: Predicting Perceived Personality by Minimal Motion Information', Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 49, 2013, pp. 1137-1143.


'Motion Patterns in Political Speech and their Influence on Personality Ratings', with K. Grammer, Journal of Research in Personality, vol. 44, 2010, pp. 374-379.



junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Political Science
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2014/2015
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Political Science
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2012/2013
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Mathematics and Musicology
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2011/2012
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Law