Professor Jonathan Levav at Columbia University and Jennifer Argo at University of Alberta conducted a series of experiments to explore how a brief light touch can affect a person’s decision making and risk taking.
In one experiment, as a woman showed subjects to their seats in the lab, she lightly and briefly touched some of them on the back of their shoulder. Then researchers asked the subjects whether they would prefer a certain amount of money or whether they’d prefer to gamble for the chance to win more money, receiving nothing if they lost. The people who were touched were 50 percent more likely to take the gamble. 50 percent!
And it’s not just any touch. A handshake didn’t achieve the same result. A handshake isn’t comforting, but a touch on the shoulder or back
The data is clear: the comfort of a supportive touch helps people feel understood and leads to more courageous performance.