Handshakes galore – but do they work? An analysis.

handshakeSearch the archives of any upscale picture library [example] and you’ll find hundreds, perhaps thousands, of photos featuring business-persons earnestly shaking hands. But does handshaking actually have any real effect at, say, a business meeting? For the first time (?) an experimental study has examined whether handshaking might (or might not) help in cooperative dealmaking situations.

“In this paper, we proposed and found that handshakes increase cooperative behaviors, affecting outcomes for both integrative and distributive negotiations.”

– say a team of authors from University of Chicago – Booth School of Business, and Harvard Business School. Their new working paper ‘Handshaking Promotes Cooperative Dealmaking‘ can be read in full online. Details are, of course, gripping:

“We show that handshakes increase cooperative behaviors, affecting outcomes for integrative and distributive negotiations. In two studies with MBA students, pairs who shook hands before integrative negotiations obtained higher joint outcomes (Studies 2a and 2b). Pairs randomly assigned to shake hands were more likely to openly reveal their preferences on trade-off issues, which improved joint outcomes (Study 3). In a fourth study using a distributive negotiation, pairs of executives assigned to shake hands were less likely to lie about their preferences and crafted agreements that split the bargaining zone more equally.”

BONUS (possibly unrelated): Jiggling and scanning the brains of cadavers