Science reveals the power of a handshake
(Medical Xpress)—New neuroscience research is confirming an old adage about the power of a handshake: strangers do form a better impression of those who proffer their hand in greeting. The study was led by Beckman Institute researcher Florin Dolcos and Department of Psychology postdoctoral research associate Sanda Dolcos.
A firm, friendly handshake has long been recommended in the business world as a way to make a good first impression, and the greeting is thought to date to ancient times as a way of showing a stranger you had no weapons. Now, a paper published online and for the December print issue of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience on a study of the neural correlates of a handshake is giving insight into just how important the practice is to the evaluations we make of subsequent social interactions. The study was led by Beckman Institute researcher Florin Dolcos and Department of Psychology postdoctoral research associate Sanda Dolcos. They found, as they wrote, that "a handshake preceding social interaction enhanced the positive impact of approach and diminished the negative impact of avoidance behavior on the evaluation of social interaction."
Their results, for the first time, give a scientific underpinning to long-held beliefs about the important role a handshake plays in social or business interactions. Sanda Dolcos said their findings have obvious implications for those who want to make a good impression.
"I would tell them to be aware of the power of a handshake," she said. "We found that it not only increases the positive effect toward a favorable interaction, but it also diminishes the impact of a negative impression. Many of our social interactions may go wrong for a reason or another, and a simple handshake preceding them can give us a boost and attenuate the negative impact of possible misunderstandings."
The study focused experimentally on approach and avoidance behaviors in social interactions. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), skin conductance, and behavioral responses were collected from18 male and female volunteers who watched and rated animated videos of non-verbal guest-host interactions in a business setting. Analysis of the fMRI data focused on brain areas from the social cognition network.
The results showed "increased sensitivity to approach than to avoidance behavior in amygdala and superior temporal sulcus, which were linked to a positive evaluation of approach behavior and a positive impact of handshake." In addition, the researchers wrote, the "nucleus accumbens, which is a reward processing region, showed greater activity for Handshake than for No-handshake conditions" – thus demonstrating a link to "the positive effect of handshake on social evaluation."
"The regions of the social cognition network are commonly engaged when people are assessing the intentions of others," Florin Dolcos said. "They had been identified before and people who have difficulty in interactions, like people with autism, have reduced response in this region.
"But, unlike previous studies, we simulated approach and avoidance behaviors using animated characters that displayed obvious interest or indifference for further interactions. This is the first time that such a manipulation was used in a relevant context."
The videos the participants watched included animated human figures in a setting that indicated a business-type interaction. The figures included a host and a guest encountering each other for the first time. Florin Dolcos said using animated videos with human figures interacting in a defined social context was a big step forward in this type of research.
"Previous research investigating social interactions has used static instead of dynamic social stimuli, or focused only on faces," he said. "However, in everyday life people are typically involved in dynamic interactions with others in a defined social context. I think that is what sets this study apart." Sanda Dolcos summed up the results: "Overall, our study not only replicated previous reports that identify activity in regions of the social cognition network, but also provided insight into the contribution of these regions into evaluating approach and avoidance social interactions, and grant neuroscientific support for the power of a handshake."
Florin Dolcos added that it's not just any handshake that leads to positive feelings, but a particular way of shaking hands, such as a firm, confident, yet friendly handshake, as is often promoted as good business practice.
"In a business setting this is what people are expecting, and those who know these things use them," he said. "Not a very long time ago you could get a loan based on a handshake. So it conveys something very important, very basic. Yet the science underlying this is so far behind. We knew these things intuitively but now we also have the scientific support."
More information: Paper: www.mitpressjourna… hHistoryKey=
Journal reference: Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
- Scientists devise guide to the perfect handshake Jul 16, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Personality, habits of thought and gender influence how we remember Apr 10, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Human and humanoid robot shake hands in space 1st Feb 15, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Aging brains allow negative memories to fade Dec 16, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Scientists identify the neural circuitry of first impressions Mar 08, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
12 hours ago Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
Alcohol and acetaminophen
May 13, 2013 Edit: sorry for the typo in the title , can't edit I looked around on google quite a bit and it's very hard to find precise information on the...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
Activating an enzyme known to play a role in the anti-aging benefits of calorie restriction delays the loss of brain cells and preserves cognitive function in mice, according to a study published in the May ...
Neuroscience 1 hour ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Despite spending billions of dollars on research and development, drug companies have been unable to come up with effective treatments for dementia and Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Now, A. ...
Neuroscience 5 hours ago | 4.8 / 5 (5) | 0 |
You're standing near an airport luggage carousel and your bag emerges on the conveyor belt, prompting you to spring into action. How does your brain make the shift from passively waiting to taking action when ...
Neuroscience 5 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Native peoples in regions where cameras are uncommon sometimes react with caution when their picture is taken. The fear that something must have been stolen from them to create the photo ...
Neuroscience 7 hours ago | 4 / 5 (4) | 0 |
In a remote fishing community in Venezuela, a lone fisherman sits on a cliff overlooking the southern Caribbean Sea. This man –– the lookout –– is responsible for directing his comrades on the water, ...
Neuroscience 9 hours ago | 4 / 5 (1) | 0 |
An experimental sleeping pill from US drug company Merck is effective at helping people fall and stay asleep, according to reviewers at the US Food and Drug Administration, which could soon approve the new drug.
41 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
The gap between life expectancy in patients with a mental illness and the general population has widened since 1985 and efforts to reduce this gap should focus on improving physical health, suggest researchers in a paper ...
1 minute ago | not rated yet | 0
Dietary advice on added sugar is damaging our health, warns a cardiologist in BMJ today. Dr. Aseem Malhotra believes that "not only has this advice been manipulated by the food industry for profit but it is actually a risk ...
Failure to use linked electronic health records may lead to biased estimates of heart attack incidence and outcome, warn researchers in a paper published in BMJ today.
A study of around 1,000 UK mothers and their children, published in The Lancet, has revealed that iodine deficiency in pregnancy may have an adverse effect on children's mental development. The research raises concerns that t ...
1 minute ago | not rated yet | 0