A shaky basis for research

16 July 2010
Some things do make you wonder about the sort of world we live in. A survey compiled by US muscle car manufacturer Chevrolet and the University of Manchester has “revealed” 70 per cent of people suffer a “crisis of confidence” when shaking hands. In addition 19 per cent were “unsure how to do it properly”. What is there to have a “crisis of confidence” about? You clasp another person’s hand and move it up and down a couple of times. That’s it. The researchers, who clearly have nothing better to do, have come up with a “formula” for a perfect handshake – which amounts to little more than I have written above. The PR accompanying this “research” did also explain that Sir Walter Raleigh is credited with introducing the shake to the west, the average person shakes hand 15,000 times in their lifetime, and the world record length for a handshake (between two Americans) is 15 hours, 30 minutes and 45 seconds. Professor Geoffrey Beattie, head of psychological sciences at the university, said: “The human handshake is one of the most crucial elements of impression formation and is used as a source of information for making a judgment about another person – so it is surprising that up until now there has not been a guide showing people how they should shake hands.” No it isn’t, because only idiots would need one. I eagerly await the professor’s forthcoming research on the perfect way to brush your teeth, and a guide to taking the bin out.
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