Still walkin barefoot, in Beverly Hills


Litigation stemming from an incident in which a middle-aged woman tripped while stepping backward to take a photograph, and without first looking in her direction of travel, led to an observational study of the frequency with which people taking photographs step back without first looking where they were stepping. Prior research on looking before stepping backward did not exist.

Research assistants asked a convenience sample of middle-aged women to take a photograph of the assistants standing in front of a building. The task required the participants to step away from the building. The study found that 87% of the participants looked back at least once before or during a backward step, and that 83% of the steps away from the building were preceded by or accompanied by a look in the direction of travel. Suggestions for future research are provided.

{ Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting }

related { “The First Moonwalk” — Bill Bailey at the Apollo Theatre, New York, 1955 }

unrelated { Man accused of sexually abusing minor identifies himself as Michael Jackson }

still image { Faye Dunaway in Eyes of Laura Mars, 1978 }