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Why do humans walk in circles when blindfolded? Answered

A Mystery: Why Can't We Walk Straight? from NPR on Vimeo.

Try as you might, you can't walk in a straight line without a visible guide point, like the Sun or a star. You might think you're walking straight, but as NPR's Robert Krulwich reports, a map of your route would reveal you are doomed to walk in circles.


I don't know the correct weight per body size, but I've heard that you can "correct" for this by carrying weight in the hand of you dominant side. Also this is related to the fact that if you are right footed you are more likely to hurt your right foot.

If you are stronger on the right side you have more control over placing your left foot. Weaker on your left side creates a "punch step" on your dominant right leading to injury.

I think the old movie "Flight of the Phoenix" (The original one with Jimmy Stewart, not the abominable remake) had a character saying that you take slightly longer strides with your dominant leg, so a right-footed person would walk in a counterclockwise spiral.

I believe that you are leaning slightly to one side or your head is turned (however slightly) which is natural as you listen and try to sense how safe each step is. Trying to get clues about the terrain etc. Very small diversions are multiplied exponentionaly.

if ur right handed, u are likely right sided. thus ur dominant leg takes slightly larger steps than ur left. this leads, over time, to a lack of straigtness. I dont know if that is the correct principle here, but its my best guess.

People who do night land navigation do the same thing. Most people spin towards the right if your right handed and spin towards the left if your left handed.

most people have a dominate hand, If your right handed more than likely you walk with the right foot and use the left side of your brain.

I guess the consensus is that it depends on our dominant side to determine which direction our "spirals" goes. Then, why some people when lost in the woods or the jungle, walk in circles? Assuming that people can see, and we can find points of reference, why sometimes we get lost and work in circles? (Did you watch The Blair Witch Project?)

Redneckengineer I believe has "both" answers (ever though he was joking about one of them). The dominant side normally influences things a bit, and believe it or not, one leg is normally a little longer then the other.


Reply 6 years ago

Earthling! Take me to your leader! :)

I've seen this reported on a show once and the reason (according to the show) is because we all are more domaniant on one side of the body than the other. and due to this we step stonger/farther with one side than the other. Little by little we circle around. Now this was not being blindfolded but in a forest type setting so it could be totally BS, but it sounds feasable.

Or if you were born on a hill one leg is shorter and you automaticly walk in circles. (a lil redneck humor there)

Actually, it's large spirals, not a proper circle (I saw it done recently on UK TV, I switched a programme on part-way through and a blind-folded chap was being tracked around a field by GPS. He did several large spirals and them walked into a tree).

It's weird, though, that our semi-circular canals can keep us vertical, but not straight.