Homo Consumericus

The nature and nurture of consumption

Are You a High Sensation-Seeker? Check Your Hand Grip.

The link between handgrip strength and specific personality traits.

One often hears that your handshake is central to the first impression that people will hold of you. Typically, in business settings, individuals are advised to have confident and firm handshakes although interestingly some cultural traditions prescribe a limp handshake. It is quite plausible that an individual's handshake is related to his/her handgrip strength (HGS).

Several recent studies have explored the relationship between individuals' HGS and particular traits. For example, in 2007 Andrew C. Gallup, Daniel D. White, and Gordon G. Gallup demonstrated a link (albeit only for males) between HGS and aggression, shoulder-to-hip ratio, and sexual behaviors. The authors concluded that HGS might serve as a reliable cue of genetic quality. In today's post, I briefly describe a more recent study by Bernhard Fink and his colleagues wherein they explored the correlation between HGS and sensation seeking.

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The theoretical argument works as follows. To the extent that HGS and sensation seeking are each positively correlated with testosterone levels, one might expect that the two variables will be correlated to one another. Fink et al. tested this intriguing proposition by measuring the HGS of 117 men and having them fill out the Zuckerman's sensation-seeking scale. Controlling for the covariate effects of weight, height, and the extent to which one engages in sporting activities, Fink and his colleagues found that HGS (of the right hand) was positively correlated with individuals' overall SSS scores, as well as with the thrill and adventure seeking subscale (of either hands). In other words, the stronger a man's HGS, the more likely he is to engage in high sensation-seeking activities (e.g., bungee jumping).

This might explain why men appear to be more likely to use products that augment their HGS. Perhaps they are attempting to send out a signal to the world (via their handshakes) that they are bold risk-takers!

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Gad Saad is Professor of Marketing at Concordia University and author of The Evolutionary Bases of Consumption and The Consuming Instinct.


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