Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sense of Touch Effects Thoughts and Behavior

The journal Science published research on how a human's sense of touch influences thoughts and behavior. Subjects participated in various experiments to see how an objects weight, texture and hardness can influence decision making.

In one experiment, the researchers had the subjects sit in hard or soft chairs and negotiate prices of a car. The subjects who sat in the harder chairs drove a harder bargain than the ones that sat in the softer chairs.

In another experiment, subjects were given information (resumes or surveys) on heavy versus lighter clipboards. The heavier clipboards resulted in the subjects stating that the information was more serious and important.

A separate experiment comparing smooth textures to harder textures had subjects handle rough or smooth puzzle pieces followed by listening to a story. The subjects who had the rough puzzle pieces stated that the interaction in the story was "harsh and uncoordinated".

Although this research was done with adults it poses many questions to me for children with sensory processing disorder, autism, ADHD, etc. Would love to see some direct research on this topic with the previously mentioned groups of children. How does a child's sense of touch directly influence certain social situations? For example, when playing with softer objects do children tend to be more flexible when sharing toys? Does performing heavy work activities (proprioceptive input) influence how serious a child interprets a situation? Interesting topic...

Reference: Touch: How a hard chair creates a hard heart. Retrieved from http://www.physorg.com/news196605902.html on 6/28/2010.


TherExtras said...

This is very interesting, Margaret. Provided the research was well-designed and controlled, the interpretation of the data allows the rest of us to freely interpret behavior based on our understanding of sensations also. Not sure if that is good, bad or I agree. I'll have to think on this one. Will come back if I come to some conclusion. Barbara

Your Therapy Source Inc said...

I just find it so interesting. I should not interpret research for other populations beyond who the research was initially done with but I can not help consider different connections and scenarios. The comorbidity of SPD and autism is so high. Interpretation of emotions is one of the primary symptoms of autism. When you consider this research and people's interpretations of social situations with intact sensory systems so curious to know how connected our sensory input is for reading and expressing emotions in children with SPD or autism. Any grad students out there to contemplate this topic???