Physical Contact and Financial Risk Taking
Posted: 24 May 2013
Date Written: April 22, 2009
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
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