According to research featured on, a good, firm handshake can not only give a positive impression to the one receiving it, but also diminishes the “negative impact of avoidance behavior.”

The study analyzed data from 18 male and female participants who were made to watch animation based on a general business setting, where a host introduces himself to a guest for the first time. Scientists observed the participants’ functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), skin conductance, and behavioral responses as they underwent the trial.

Based on factors such as the response of the brain’s social cognitive network, the team found that compared to no physical contact, handshakes produce greater activity in the nucleus accumbens, which is the brain region that controls reward, pleasure, and laughter.

“The regions of the social cognition network are commonly engaged when people are assessing the intentions of others,” study co-author Florin Dolcos explains. “In a business setting, this is what people are expecting, and those who know these things use them. Not a very long time ago you could get a loan based on a handshake. So it conveys something very important, very basic. Yet the science underlying this is so far behind. We knew these things intuitively but now we also have the scientific support."

So the next time you’re introduced to someone, always be sure that you grasp their offered welcome firmly, warmly, and sincerely. It’s good to get relationships off on the right foot--or in this case, hand.

(Photo by Wirawat Lian-udom via Flickr Creative Commons)

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