How is Handshaking Related to Personality?
Imagine receiving a firm handshake from a stranger. Does this reflect anything about
the person's personality? Could you predict the person's personality characteristics from
the firm handshake? For example, would a person with a firm handshake be more likely to
be extraverted (e.g., sociable) and open to experience (e.g., imaginative)?
Chaplin, Phillips, Brown, Clanton, and Stein (2000) investigated relations between a
firm handshake and certain personality characteristics. The firm handshake measure
consisted of five dimensions. These included eye contact, completeness of the grip, vigor,
duration, and strength. They found statistically significant positive correlations between a
firm handshake and extraversion, and a firm handshake and openness to experience.
Moreover, they found statistically significant negative correlations between a firm
handshake and shyness, and a firm handshake and neuroticism. In other words, people
with a firm handshake were more likey to be extraverted and open to experience, and less
likely to be shy and neurotic. However, a firm handshake was positively associated with
openness to experience for females, but not males.
They also conducted analyses controlling for gender. When statistically controlling for
the participant's gender, they found that a firm hand shake was positively correlated with
extraversion and emotional expression. Moreover, when statistically controlling for the
participant's gender, they found that a firm handshake was negatively correlated with
These findings may have important practical implications. You may be able to predict
a person's personality from his or her handshake.
1. See their article for information about other findings.
Chaplin, W. F., Phillips, J. B., Brown, J. D., Clanton, N. R., & Stein, J. L. (2000).
Handshaking, gender, personality, and first impressions. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 79, 110-117.