Your Body Never Lies - Four Personality Type Movement Styles

Pic Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Pic Credit: Wikimedia Commons

You know when people tell you to lift out of your knees to protect your lower back? Well, they may be right, but if you have preferences for Intuiting, that’s probably not what comes naturally to you.

At the APTi Conference last week, I participated in the pre-conference workshop about Type in Motion. How do our cognitive functions show up in our bodies? Presenters Rianne and Dick made a high claim at the beginning:

Your Body Never Lies.

I was intrigued.

We started off with introductions, and jumped right into some exercises. Literally. The first exercise was a long-jump, which Rianne filmed in slow motion and later showed to us so we could see first-hand how we move, and the differences between function preferences in the group. Other exercises involved throwing balls and a tug-of-war.

We learned about two questions to gauge indications for the cognitive functions (perception functions of Sensing or Intuiting S or N; judgment functions of Thinking or Feeling T or F) by observing how people move:

1.     Do they use bottom up or top-down movement?

2.     Do their shoulders and hips remain locked or counter-rotate?

Caveat: This blog post obviously only represents the gist of it, so please do not take one observation point as proof of someone’s Type preferences!

When you jump, do you squat down into your knees to gather strength from your thighs, or are you more likely to stay quite straight and push off engaging your calves and toes?

People who tend to squat and use their thighs are using bottom-up movement, which is an indication for the Sensing preference. They engage and charge up, feet flat on the ground.

People who tend to move vertically and use more their calves and toes use top-down movement, which is an indication for the Intuiting preference. They engage and charge up leaning forward and stretching their backs.

When you sit on the edge of your seat and twist to one side as far back as you can, do your knees go inward or do they open up to the same side?

If you’re twisting to the right and your right leg stays firmly planted on the floor, perhaps your knees even go slightly inward, you’re probably trying to counterbalance to get further into your rotation. This would be dissociating hips and shoulders.

If your knees move with your shoulders, you get further into your rotation through associating the two.

Bottom up and associated movement correlates with SF; aka gross motor skills.
Bottom up and dissociated movement correlates with ST; aka fine motor skills.

Top down and associated movement correlates with NT; aka cerebral motor skills.
Top down and dissociated movement correlates with NF; combined motor skills.

Rianne uses this knowledge primarily in sports and her work with athletes and teams. She recommends coaches use type awareness to help athletes be their best by adapting techniques to their preferences. E.g. a swimmer with an S preference might go down into their knees on the starting block and push off using the strength of their thighs, while a swimmer with an N preference may have better and faster start-off results from a higher bend at the hips.

I see it as a useful additional lens to perhaps clarify S or N preferences in people with a slight result on the MBTI questionnaire. I’m also not going to feel bad anymore that I can’t squat down in Zumba as far as other dancers.

If you’d like to learn more about Type in Motion, please contact Dick Otter on and Rianne van Strien at We’ll work on bringing their certification program to the States in 2014, so I’ll be sure to update the events calendar with more information when I have it.