Psych Study: Firm Handshakes Impress

ByABC News
July 7, 2000, 12:01 PM

N E W   Y O R K, July 10 -- The etiquette books and your mother were right.

Sweaty palms, a weak grip, not making eye contact and a lack of pumping are big no-nos when reaching out and shaking a strangers hand.

A cool hand, a firm grasp, a reasonably timed eye-lock and a few ups and downs of the other persons five digits give a better first impression.

And women dont be afraid of offering a strong, assertive handshake!

These are the findings of a gripping handshake study of 48 male and 64 female college students from the University of Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, in this months Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association.

Four psychology students decided to evaluate the handshakes and personalities of the 112 students over a period of nine months last year because handshakes are one of those human behaviors taken for granted but rarely studied, says William Chaplin, an associate professor of psychology who led the study.

Very little has been written about handshakes in the psychological literature, Chaplin says, and what is there addresses either the handshakes of psychiatric patients or a study performed by a single observer.

A Personality Indicator?

Chaplin says he and the students wanted to see if a handshake provided an indication of someones personality and what perception the glad- or sad-handing might make on a recipient.

First, the four students developed a method to assess their subjects grips. They rated the shake on a scale of 1 to 5 for completeness of grip, temperature of skin, dryness, strength, duration, vigor, texture and eye contact.

Then, each of the four students evaluated the 112 students handshakes twice, as well as their personalities. The students had invited subjects from all over the school to participate in what was billed as a personality analysis.