Date of Award
University Scholars Director
Dr. Jeff Keuss
First Advisor/Committee Member
Second Advisor/Committee Member
locomotion, group walking, infant carrying, Uganda
A major portion of humans’ activity-based energy expenditure is taken up by locomotion, particularly walking. Humans can offset the energetic expenditure of walking in numerous ways, both evolutionary (such as changes in body shape) and culturally. Behaviorally, people can choose to walk in a variety of ways, including alone or with a group, carrying loads, and walking quickly or more slowly. All of these behaviors have energetic outcomes and as such can be important windows into how populations and groups adjust to different constraints. While sex differences in speed of paired walkers have been established by others, the dynamics of how walkers adjust their speed in more varied groups and in groups containing children remains unexplored. Furthermore, little ecological data exists to illustrate the relationships between walking speed and child-carrying. Because the determinants of group dynamics and parental investment are partially cultural, the present study examines walking behavior between populations in the Northwestern United States and Central Uganda. We recorded the speed, load carriage, and group composition of pedestrians in urban areas of each location. Our data suggest that children are treated fundamentally differently than other loads or walking partners, and that speed adjustments are child-dependent. Sexual division of labor was also observed, with women being much more likely than men to carry children in both cultures. However, clear distinctions between the groups make large generalizations about walking behavior difficult, and highlight the importance of culturally specific contexts.
Bouterse, Leah M., "Costs of Group Locomotion: How Infant-carrying and Group Members Mediate Walking Speed Decisions in North American and East African Populations" (2017). Honors Projects. 65.
Biological and Physical Anthropology Commons, Biology Commons, Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology Commons, Other Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Commons, Population Biology Commons, Social and Cultural Anthropology Commons