Physical Contact and Financial Risk Taking

Posted: 24 May 2013

See all articles by Jonathan Levav

Jonathan Levav

Columbia Business School - Marketing

Jennifer Argo

University of Alberta - Department of Marketing, Business Economics & Law

Date Written: April 22, 2009

Abstract

We show that minimal physical contact can increase people's sense of security and, consequently, lead them to increased risk-taking behavior. In three experiments, with both hypothetical and real payoffs, a female experimenter’s light, comforting pat on the shoulder led participants to greater financial risk-taking. Further, this effect was both mediated and moderated by feelings of security in both male and female participants. Finally, we established the boundary conditions for the impact of physical contact on risk-taking behaviors by demonstrating that the effect does not occur when the touching is performed by a male, and is attenuated when the touch consists of a handshake. The results suggest that subtle physical contact can be strongly influential in decision making and the willingness to accept risk.

Keywords: interpersonal touch, risk-taking, affect, financial decision making, physical contact

Suggested Citation

Levav, Jonathan and Argo, Jennifer, Physical Contact and Financial Risk Taking (April 22, 2009). Psychological Science, Vol. 21, No. 6, 2010 , University of Alberta School of Business Research Paper No. 2013-309, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2268790

Jonathan Levav (Contact Author)

Columbia Business School - Marketing ( email )

New York, NY 10027
United States

Jennifer Argo

University of Alberta - Department of Marketing, Business Economics & Law ( email )

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R6
Canada

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