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Handshake - way to clinch good first impression

Posted on Oct 21, 12:59PM | IANS

A new study has just confirmed an old adage - strangers do form a positive image of those who proffer their hand in greeting.

A firm and friendly handshake has long been recommended in the business world as a way to make a good first impression. The greeting harks back to ancient times as a way of showing a stranger you were unarmed.

Researchers at the Beckman Institute, US, found that "a handshake ... not only increases the positive effect toward a favourable interaction, but also diminishes the impact of a negative impression," the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience reports.

The findings of researcher Florin Dolcos and postdoctoral research associate Sanda Dolcos have obvious implications for those who want to make a good impression. "I would tell them to be aware of the power of a handshake," says Sanda Dolcos, according to Beckman statement.

"Many of our social interactions may go wrong for one reason or another, and a simple handshake preceding them can give us a boost and attenuate the negative impact of possible misunderstandings," adds Sanda Dolcos.

These findings are based on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and behavioural responses, collected from male and female volunteers who watched and rated animated videos of non-verbal guest-host interactions in a business setting.

Florin Dolcos added that it's not just any handshake that leads to positive feelings, but a particular way of shaking hands, such as a firm, confident, yet friendly handshake, as is often promoted as good business practice.

"In a business setting this is what people are expecting, and those who know these things use them. Not a very long time ago you could get a loan based on a handshake. So it conveys something very important, very basic," said Florin Dolcos.

"Yet the science underlying this is so far behind. We knew these things intuitively but now we also have the scientific support," added Florin Dolcos.

Florin Dolcos is assistant professor of psychology and a member of the Beckman Cognitive Neuroscience group.