The researchers conducted a series of experiments probing how objects’ weight, texture, and hardness can unconsciously influence judgments about unrelated events and situations:
— To test the effects of weight, metaphorically associated with seriousness and importance, subjects used either light or heavy clipboards while evaluating resumes. They judged candidates whose resumes were seen on a heavy clipboard as better qualified and more serious about the position, and rated their own accuracy at the task as more important.
— An experiment testing texture’s effects had participants arrange rough or smooth puzzle pieces before hearing a story about a social interaction. Those who worked with the rough puzzle were likelier to describe the interaction in the story as uncoordinated and harsh.
— In a test of hardness, subjects handled either a soft blanket or a hard wooden block before being told an ambiguous story about a workplace interaction between a supervisor and an employee. Those who touched the block judged the employee as more rigid and strict.
— A second hardness experiment showed that even passive touch can shape interactions. Subjects seated in hard or soft chairs engaged in mock haggling over the price of a new car. Subjects in hard chairs were less
flexible, showing less movement between successive offers. They also judged their adversaries in the negotiations as more stable and less emotional.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
From Harvard Alumni Affairs