With hand on heart, people are seen as more honest, and they really do behave more honestly

Posted on March 21, 2014

The gesture of putting hand on heart makes people seem more honest

You know when you want a friend or partner to tell you, honestly, how you look in a new outfit? A new study offers a way. Daft as it may sound, the findings suggest that if you truly want an honest verdict, it could work to ask your friend to put his hand on his heart before he answers (in British and Polish cultures, at least).

In one of several experiments Michal Parzuchowski and Bogdan Wojciszke asked 48 Polish undergrads (eight men) to rate the physical attractiveness of ten women - ostensibly friends of the experimenter. In fact, half these target women had been selected from a German equivalent of the Hotornot.Com website for supposedly being extremely unattractive, and the other half because they were moderately attractive, and this categorisation was confirmed in pilot work.

The researchers said that because of its cultural meaning, the gesture of putting a hand on the heart automatically activates concepts related to honesty, which increased participants' bluntness in their ratings of the less attractive women. There was no social need to tell a white lie about the more attractive women, and so no differences emerged between the groups in this case.

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Source material from British Psychological Society

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