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A Woman's Touch Encourages Financial Risk-Taking
Date:5/14/2010

The same contact from a man had no effect, researchers found

FRIDAY, May 14 (HealthDay News) -- If you're about to make a big financial purchase, keep your distance from the friendly and helpful saleswoman.

A series of experiments by researchers from Columbia University and University of Alberta found both men and women were more likely to take financial risks after being lightly touched on the back by a woman, new research shows.

The same contact with a man did not result in more risk-taking.

Researchers say being touched by a woman may remind participants of their mother's touch during infancy, making them feel more secure and confident in taking chances.

"Certain forms of contact are associated with memories and emotional experiences of being touched by your mom," explained study author Jonathan Levav, an associate professor of business at Columbia University in New York City. "We wanted to find out how that played out among adults. What we found for financial risk-taking is a touch by a man doesn't have much influence, but a woman's touch does."

The study was recently published online in the journal Psychological Science.

In the first experiment, participants were ushered into a room with either a light, one-second touch on back of shoulder from a female, or simply asked to take a seat without any touching. Participants then had to answer 14 questions that involved decisions about money with varying levels of risk. For example, students were asked to choose between receiving $600 for sure, or flipping a coin and having a 50-50 chance of receiving $2,000.

Both male and female participants who'd been touched were significantly more likely to gamble on the bigger payout.

In a second experiment, college business students were either touched by a male or a female, shook hands with a male or female, or were not touched. Students were then asked to choo
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