By Darrien Garay
“Always give a firm handshake,” my father says, “that way they know you mean business.” Seems he was onto something. Recent research published in the June issue of Science supports his maxim.
Subtle tactile experiences have a significant impact upon our social judgments and decisions reports a team of scientists hailing from Yale, Harvard, and M.I.T. The researchers experimentally demonstrated the nonconscious influence of touch upon a variety of common social situations.
In one of the experiments, subjects were asked to evaluate candidates based upon the strength of their resumes. The resumes were attached to either light or heavy clipboards. Resumes attached to heavy clipboards were much more likely to be rated as serious and important.
Another experiment found that subjects seated in a hard chair were more rigid in a mock haggling protocol then their soft chaired contemporaries.
The researchers hypothesize that because touch is the first sense to develop, specifically in the context of mother-child comfort and bonding, it serves a critical role in the creation of an “ontological scaffold… of intrapersonal and interpersonal conceptual and metaphorical knowledge.”
The effects of this scaffold are apparent in words such as cool/hot, hard/soft, and rough/smooth that have risen from their tactile origins to carry additional semantic weight and social descriptiveness.
Originally reported here: http://tinyurl.com/262bvbd
Abstract for Science article here: http://tinyurl.com/26b9nn2
Engineers at Frankfuter Univeristy, Germany have joined with a team of American neuroscientists to create robots "capable of facilitating peaceful negotiations even in the most tension filled of atmospheres." These robots were designed to mimic behaviors that humans "find irresistibly attractive and calming" in order to diffuse anger and pave the wave for fruitful exchange. Videos of the robots learning the desired patterns of behavior can be found at: