How touch can influence judgments

Psychologists report in the journal Science that interpersonal interactions can be shaped, profoundly yet unconsciously, by the physical attributes of incidental objects: Resumes reviewed on a heavy clipboard are judged to be more substantive, while a negotiator seated in a soft chair is less likely to drive a hard bargain.The research was conducted by psychologists at Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Yale University. The authors say the work suggests that physical touch — the first of our senses to develop — may continue to operate throughout life like a scaffold upon which people build their social judgments and decisions.“Touch remains perhaps the most underappreciated sense in behavioral research,” said co-author Christopher C. Nocera, a graduate student in Harvard’s Department of Psychology. “Our work suggests that greetings involving touch, such as handshakes and cheek kisses, may in fact have critical influences on our social interactions, in an unconscious fashion.”Nocera conducted the research with Joshua M. Ackerman, assistant professor of marketing at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and John A. Bargh, professor of psychology at Yale.“First impressions are liable to be influenced by the tactile environment, and control over this environment may be especially important for negotiators, pollsters, job seekers, and others interested in interpersonal communication,” the authors wrote in the latest issue of Science. “The use of ‘tactile tactics’ may represent a new frontier in social influence and communication.”The researchers conducted a series of experiments probing how objects’ weight, texture, and hardness can unconsciously influence judgments about unrelated events and situations:— To test the effects of weight, metaphorically associated with seriousness and importance, subjects used either light or heavy clipboards while evaluating resumes. They judged candidates whose resumes were seen on a heavy clipboard as better qualified and more serious about the position, and rated their own accuracy at the task as more important.— An experiment testing texture’s effects had participants arrange rough or smooth puzzle pieces before hearing a story about a social interaction. Those who worked with the rough puzzle were likelier to describe the interaction in the story as uncoordinated and harsh.— In a test of hardness, subjects handled either a soft blanket or a hard wooden block before being told an ambiguous story about a workplace interaction between a supervisor and an employee. Those who touched the block judged the employee as more rigid and strict.— A second hardness experiment showed that even passive touch can shape interactions. Subjects seated in hard or soft chairs engaged in mock haggling over the price of a new car. Subjects in hard chairs were lessflexible, showing less movement between successive offers. They also judged their adversaries in the negotiations as more stable and less emotional.Nocera and his colleagues say these experiments suggest that information acquired through touch exerts broad, if generally imperceptible, influence over cognition. They propose that encounters with objects can elicit a “haptic mindset,” triggering application of associated concepts even to unrelated people and situations.“People often assume that exploration of new things occurs primarily through the eyes,” Nocera said. “While the informative power of vision is irrefutable, this is not the whole story. For example, the typical reaction to an unknown object is usually as follows: With an outstretched arm and an open hand, we ask, ‘Can I see that?’ Thisresponse suggests the investigation is not limited to vision, but rather the integrative sum of seeing, feeling, touching, and manipulating the unfamiliar object.”Nocera said that because touch appears to be the first sense that people use to experience the world ╤ for example, by equating the warm and gentle touch of a mother with comfort and safety ╤ it may provide part ofthe basis by which metaphorical abstraction allows for the development of a more complex understanding of comfort and safety. This physical-to-mental abstraction is reflected in metaphors and shared linguistic descriptors, such as the multiple meanings of words like “hard,” “rough,” and “heavy.”Nocera, Ackerman, and Bargh’s work was supported by the Sloan School of Management at MIT and by the National Institute of Mental Health. read more

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Citizens Bank Foundation makes $10,000 grant to Champlain Housing Trust’s financial fitness counseling program

first_imgCitizens Bank,The Champlain Housing Trust announced today that the Citizens Bank Foundation has awarded a $10,000 grant to help create a new program that provides financial fitness counseling to applicants of its rental housing. CHT has long provided home buyer education counseling, post purchase counseling, delinquency intervention and foreclosure prevention services.‘Thanks to the Citizens Bank Foundation, we are able to expand our services and to try a new approach,’ explained Chris Donnelly, Director of Community Relations at CHT. ‘Because of poor credit or other solvable issues, we have to turn away some rental applicants. We have found that with guidance, people can start to repair credit or set themselves on a more stable path. So instead of saying ‘No’ to these people, we want to be able to say ‘Yes, but only if you work with us.’‘‘We are thrilled to be able to provide this support to improve the financial fitness of low and moderate income households,’ said Brigitte Ritchie, VP, Community Investments at Citizens Bank. ‘The Champlain Housing Trust has a proven track record and we are happy to help them expand their program.’The education and counseling curriculum is currently under development and in the next few months CHT will begin to provide rental applicants with the opportunity to participate in the program. The expectation is that as many as 200 people will benefit from the counseling in 2011.About the Champlain Housing TrustThe Champlain Housing Trust, founded in 1984, is the largest community land trust in the country. Throughout Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties, CHT owns or manages more than 1,500 apartments, stewards 485 owner-occupied homes in its signature shared-equity program, provides services to five housing cooperatives, and offers affordable energy efficiency and rehab loans. In 2008, CHT won the prestigious United Nations World Habitat Award, recognizing its innovative, sustainable programs. More information is available at www.champlainhousingtrust.org(link is external).About the Citizens Bank FoundationCitizens Bank Foundation is a subsidiary of the Citizens Charitable Foundation, which is a charitable contributions vehicle of Citizens Financial Group, Inc., RBS Citizens, N.A. and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. The foundation’s support is focused on housing, community development and basic human needs. CFG’s website is citizensbank.com.last_img read more

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Irish boxers looking to qualify for Rio

first_imgHeavyweight O’Neill faces Wesley Apochi of Nigeria in his quarter-final.O’Neill needs to win the qualifier competition to earn a spot at this summer’s Olympic Games.Middleweight Michael O’Reilly will go toe-to-toe with Vitalia Dandarenka of Belarus in the last 32.last_img

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