Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 51 of 75

Research which some participants sat in hard- er chairs while others sat in softer chairs. Those in harder chairs rated the candidate as more stable than did those in softer chairs. The researchers speculate that the sensory experiences that people develop early in life influence their perceptions as adults. Common metaphors such as "having a hard day," "making a weighty decision," or "walking softly" can reinforce those perceptions. As a result, touching a hard or soft object can trigger certain processing patterns, Ackerman says. Even so, he adds that the sense of touch has not been as well-explored in behavioral research as other senses such as sight and hearing. Tackling a Touchy Subject Had a hard day? Feeling the weight of the world? Have a soft touch? These phrases aren't just idiomatic—they represent how people link tactile characteristics such as weight, tex- ture, and hardness to emotional perception. In fact, these emotional perceptions can be so strong that what people touch can uncon- sciously influence how they make decisions, say Joshua Ackerman, an assistant professor of marketing at MIT Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, Massachusetts; John Bargh, a professor of psychology at Yale University in New Haven, Con- necticut; and Christopher Nocera, a doctoral candidate at Harvard Uni- versity, Cambridge. Ackerman, Bargh, and Nocera conducted six experiments to see whether what people were holding would affect how they evaluated a 50 BizEd NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2010 job candidate. In one experiment, they asked 54 people to evaluate a job candidate—some filled out their evaluation forms using light clipboards, while others filled them out using heavy clipboards. The researchers found that those hold- ing heavier clipboards gave the can- didate higher ratings overall than those holding lighter clipboards. Heaviness didn't always lead to more positive ratings in all areas, however: Heavy-clipboard holders evaluated the candidate as less like- ly to get along with co-workers. They also rated the accuracy of their own evalu- ations more highly than light-clipboard holders. The research- ers ran another experiment in Joshua Ackerman "I find it amazing that subtle actions like touching sandpaper or sitting in a hard chair can have such an influence over very important decisions, such as which candidate we're willing to hire," says Ackerman. Their paper, "Incidental Haptic Sensations Influence Social Judg- ments and Decisions," was pub- lished in the June issue of the jour- nal Science. An Argument Against Insider Trading Some economists are arguing that the SEC's criminalization of insider trad- ing is misguided, going so far as to say that the practice actually ben- efits the market. Not so, say Rob- ert Prentice, professor of business law, and Dain Donelson, assistant professor of business law, at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. The two co-authored the paper, "Insider Trading as a Signaling Device," in response to recent

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of BizEd - NovDec2010