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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2000 Jul;79(1):110-7.

Handshaking, gender, personality, and first impressions.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa 35487, USA.


Although people's handshakes are thought to reflect their personality and influence our first impressions of them, these relations have seldom been formally investigated. One hundred twelve participants had their hand shaken twice by 4 trained coders (2 men and 2 women) and completed 4 personality measures. The participants' handshakes were stable and consistent across time and coders. There were also gender differences on most of the handshaking characteristics. A firm handshake was related positively to extraversion and emotional expressiveness and negatively to shyness and neuroticism; it was also positively related to openness to experience, but only for women. Finally, handshake characteristics were related to the impressions of the participants formed by the coders. These results demonstrate that personality traits, assessed through self-report, can predict specific behaviors assessed by trained observers. The pattern of relations among openness, gender, handshaking, and first impressions suggests that a firm handshake may be an effective form of self-promotion for women.

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