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A Woman’s Touch Can Be Risky

A new study finds that physical contact, such as a pat on the back by a woman, increases a man’s risk tolerance.

Investigators discovered that men would risk more money if a female experimenter patted them on the back, than if she just talked to them or if a man did the patting.

The researchers think this comes from the way that mothers use touch to make their babies feel secure.

According to the researchers, when we are infants, we receive a lot of touch from our mothers. This creates a sense of attachment, which makes a baby feel secure.

This helps the youngster’s sense of adventure; they’re more willing to take the risks that come with exploring unfamiliar contexts and strange situations.

Jonathan Levav of Columbia University and Jennifer J. Argo of the University of Alberta wanted to know what happens when those babies grow up: Does physical contact also affect how willing adults are to take risks?

Participants were tested to see if they would take risks, such as investing money or taking a gamble.

When they started the experiment, they were greeted in different ways: by a female or male experimenter and with a light, comforting touch on the shoulder, a handshake, or no physical contact at all.

At the end of the experiment, they also filled out surveys that assessed how secure they felt. The researchers found that participants who were touched felt more secure and took bigger risks than those who weren’t – but only if they were touched by a woman.

The effect was stronger for a touch on the back than for a handshake, but went away entirely for participants who were touched by a man.

The results suggest that a woman’s touch works the same on adults as it does on infants: making them feel more secure and more willing to take risks.

The study is published online in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Source: Association for Psychological Science

A Woman’s Touch Can Be Risky

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). A Woman’s Touch Can Be Risky. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 18, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/05/12/a-womans-touch-can-be-risky/13748.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.