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Get the feeling that you like someone...

Sun, 27th Jun 2010

Psychologists have shown that the way things feel to the touch affect the way we feel about other people!

MIT-based researcher Joshua Ackerman and his colleagues, writing in Science, made the discovery by stopping people in the street and asking them to feel, fondle or interact with a range of objects before asking them to take part in a series of simple exercises. In one case they handed participants a fake CV for an ostensible job applicant and asked them to rate the candidate's likelihood of success and how seriously he took his job. In some cases the CV was clipped to a heavy backboard, in other cases the same CV was presented on a much lighter board. Incredibly, despite the CVs being identical, the candidate scored much more highly in the heavy board condition than in the lighter one. Hand

In another test, a different group of passersby were asked do one of two jigsaw puzzles - either one in which the pieces were very rough, or one with smooth-edged pieces - before reading and interpreting a ambiguously-worded statement describing an interaction between two people. Again, those who did the rough puzzle tended to interpret the statement as a combative and harsh interaction between the two characters, whilst those who did the smooth puzzle said the interaction was friendly. Even more interestingly, when the participants were asked to take part in a gambling task in which, to win, they had to offer a third party a sufficient number of the ten "tickets" given to them at the start of the game, those who did the rough puzzle tended to give more tickets, perceiving the other player to drive a harder bargain, than those who completed the smooth puzzle. Proof, say the scientists, that physical interactions can have a profound impact on our impressions and decisions, even when these are completely unrelated to the objects being touched.

So the moral of the story is, to get the best price on that car, sit the salesman in the hard chair and offer him an emery board while he waits...!


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