Friday, July 2, 2010

The Psychology of Touch

Text by Freakonomics

If the size of body parts corresponded to their sensitivity, humans would look like this.

Ed Yong of Discover Magazine blogs about Joshua M. Ackerman, Christopher C. Nocera, and John A. Bargh’s research on the effects of touch. Yong summarizes: “Weight is linked to importance, so that people carrying heavy objects deem interview candidates as more serious and social problems as more pressing. Texture is linked to difficulty and harshness. Touching rough sandpaper makes social interactions seem more adversarial, while smooth wood makes them seem friendlier. Finally, hardness is associated with rigidity and stability. When sitting on a hard chair, negotiators take tougher stances, but if they sit on a soft one instead, they become more flexible.” In the experiments, texture even affected the outcome of an Ultimatum game. The authors point out that “[t]ouch is both the first sense to develop and a critical l means of information acquisition and environmental manipulation.” Source

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