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Tactile Tactics: How the firmness of the chair impacts the outcome of the date

Article by Phillip Adcock

Looking for love in all the wrong places

If you find you’re luckier at cards than you are at love, you need to pay more attention to what you’re sitting on when out on a date. Scientists have long known that people sitting on hard surfaces make firmer business decisions, while those sitting on soft cushions tend to be a “softer touch.” When deciding where to go out on a date, then, you may want to factor in what you’ll be sitting on during your liaison. Do you want your partner to be a tough negotiator or more compatible?

dating over 50 chair choice image

And don’t overlook the other things you touch while on your date.  The type and weight of cutlery in the restaurant and the carpet on the floor of the hotel lobby can all add up to the ultimate success–or failure–of your date. At a subconscious level, we’re liable to make quite irrational quality judgements by linking touch with a particular environment or situation.

For example, the feeling of a car’s steering wheel will lead our brains to evaluate the likely quality of that vehicle. The weight of a digital camera or mobile phone are also analysed in connection with the quality of the item: Too light and our brains think they are cheaply made and of poor quality.


Skin – considered the largest organ of the human body, accounting for about 15 percent of total body weight – constantly receives and sends touch-related stimuli to our brains. The sense of touch relays a number of aspects, including shape, pressure, weight, cold, warmth, and texture. Skin has many different types of receptors that transmit different touch sensations.

Most of us know that tactile sensation conveys information about the object or person we’re touching. But how do our brains interpret that information, and what courses of action might we take as a result? Once again, science provides a number of key answers. Researchers have concluded that an object’s texture, hardness, and weight influence our perceptions, judgements, and decision-making process. In other words, how objects in contact with us feel can influence everything from the way we interact with others to the brand of smartphone we buy.

Utilise tactile tactics

Be aware of just how what you touch influences your own state of mind. For example, when you go on a job interview, ask yourself what your chair feels like and what’s on the floor in the room. If they aren’t conducive to professionalism, expertise, and authority, you’ll need to reframe your impressions to provide your brain with something more positive and goal oriented.  Instead of thinking about that cheap chair and chintzy carpet, concentrate on that great big expensive-looking desk across from you, or perhaps the soothing view outside the windows.  And give your brain the icing on the cake it wants by pulling out that heavy pen from within your designer handbag or briefcase. Remember: you’re in charge.

The Feel of Success

Of course, we can feel things across our entire body, not only with our hands.  What you sit on influences what you think and perceive every bit as much as what you walk on or touch. In order to put that information to work, you need to give some thought to what the physical feeling of success means to you.

One technique involves a humble ballpoint pen. Most of us have to write as part of our everyday lives.  One way to signal quality, seriousness, and intent to your brain is to write using a quality pen. Typically, good pens are physically heavier and often fatter than the run-of-the-mill writing implements.  If you don’t possess one, get hold of one (literally). You’ll find that writing with a heavier pen will actually help your brain attribute more size and weight to what you’re noting.

Do you want proof?  When Kathleen Parker of The Washington Post handed out clipboards with a job applicant’s CV attached, the people who received heavier clipboards gave the job applicants higher ratings, deducing that those applicants were more qualified.

Although there are definite limits to the ability of touch to affect choice, the effects in the right circumstances can be dramatic. Often, though, the entire sense of touch gets overlooked in relation to self-motivation and success. In reality, touch is as likely as all of our other senses to influence our state of mind and likelihood of achievement.  What we touch definitely can influence how we feel.  And more.

Master Your Brain by Phillip Adcock is published by Sterling, priced £12.99. For more information see www.sbxl.com/who-we-are/.


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