The strength of weak touches

The BPS Research Digest covers a simple yet fascinating study on the power on lightly touching someone’s arm when trying to persuade them.

In this case, the psychology study involved a man asking women to dance or for their phone numbers.

A good-looking man approached 120 women in a night club over a period of three weeks, and asked them to dance. It was in the name of science – the man was an assistant to the psychologist Nicolas Guegen. Remarkably, of the 60 women who he touched lightly on the arm, 65 per cent agreed to a dance, compared with just 43 per cent of the 60 women who he asked without making any physical contact.

A second study involved three male research assistants approaching 240 women in the street and asking them for their phone numbers. Among those 120 women who the researchers touched lightly on the arm, 19 per cent agreed to share their number, compared with 10 per cent of the women with whom no physical contact was made.

Christian has a fantastic talent for finding really intriguing studies and this is a particularly good example.

Have a look at his article for more on why this effect might occur.

Link to BPSRD on ‘The power of a light touch on the arm’.

4 thoughts on “The strength of weak touches”

  1. Hello
    I’ve just started reading your blog and there is a vast amount of info that I’m trying to digest. I did however feel the desire to question this study.
    I’d assume that it came down to the individual as to whether you give them your telephone number and how they feel about being touched by a stranger. I don’t enjoy people I’ve never met coming into my “personal space”, let alone placing their hand on me.
    I’d imagine that if anything, confidence would hold the majority of the persuading factor. You’d be more willing to trust someone that has confidence that someone that isn’t entirely sure of themselves.
    Have a Great Day

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