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Research Reviews

Action, Movement, and Culture: Does Culture Shape Movement?

Blandine Bril

The Big Idea

In shorthand, this paper is both WEIRD and weird.  In longhand, it is about the impact of cultural constraints on motor habits.  In a sentence: It is weird that the scientific community regularly assumes that Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) peoples are solely representative of humankind.

This paper by Blandine Bril was published in Kinesiology Review in 2018.  Bril’s question is a simple one:  Are there “motor styles” common to members of a given cultural group?  Her answer is “Yes.”  She argues that as our perspective shifts from WEIRD to worldwide cultural people markers, we see that similar motoric constraints generate widely diverse adaptations and strategies.


  • There is a kind of widespread blindness toward the impact of culture on human movement possibilities.
  • Much of the blame for this Western-leaning situation is a lack of collaboration between cultural anthropologists and other research communities.
  • While the anthropologists show little interest in motor skills as instrumental human action, kinesiology researchers show little interest in the cultural diversity of human movement.
  • The question then is...

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