If you want to force someone to do something, be sure to touch them first

Illustration for article titled If you want to force someone to do something, be sure to touch them first

Need to ask somebody a big favor? Don't discount the importance of a little friendly physical contact. It can make even a total stranger want to do your bidding, even if the favor involves a very large, very energetic dog.

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That, at least, is what a pair of researchers from France's University of Southern Brittany found out back in 2002. They wanted to probe just how much touch affects a person's willingness to help another person out, and they begin their summary with some rather awesomely catty comments about how tiny the favors in previous experiments were:

The effect of touch on compliance to a request has traditionally been tested with small solicitation (answer to a small questionnaire, give a dime to a confederate ....). In our experiment a larger request was evaluated. Passersby, 53 men and 67 women, were asked by two confederates to look after a large and very excited dog for 10 minutes because each wanted to go into a pharmacy where animals were prohibited. In half of the cases, subjects were touched during the request. Analysis showed that, when touched, 55% of the subjects agreed with the request whereas 35% only in the no-touch control condition agreed. This finding indicates that touch was positively associated with the subjects' compliance (p<.03).

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The real question here is how many people would have agreed if it was the dog that had touched them. I demand answers, science!

Via NCBI ROFL. Image via.

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DISCUSSION

Corpore Metal

Ah! Excellent advice for sociopaths—who lack any genuine warmth or human feeling behind whatever gestures of warmth they fake for manipulation purposes. Just the ticket for those who need to manipulate people for their next set of scams!

(Corpore is definitely of the "don't touch anybody unless you really, really mean it and know them very well in the first place" school of aloof standoffishness. All those fake gestures of warmth I see just annoy me. If you're from the "huggy" part of California, France or New York sorry, but I don't swing that way.)