Why having sweaty palms before that big job interview could actually work in your favour

The article below was published in the DM on line on 27 August 2013 and I can only assume that it was a slow day for news and they needed some “space fillers” as if ever there was a matter of stating the blindingly obvious then this is it (but remember, this is important psychological research). What I loved was the response from one reader who commented “in other words a bit of adrenalin assists performance – and how many words are ued in this article to tell us this?”

However, I have displayed the article below for you to make your own minds up!

The age-old advice to ‘just relax’ before giving a speech or taking an exam may not hold true, research suggests.

A study found that signs traditionally interpreted as nervousness – such as sweaty palms and a racing heart – may actually increase your negotiating power.

In those who enjoy negotiating, it can be a sign of being ‘revved up’ for a challenge and improve your skills, say the team from America’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Nervous? Sweaty palms before an important interview or big speech could actually boost a person's negotiating power

Nervous? Sweaty palms before an important interview or big speech could actually boost a person’s negotiating power

But for those who hate it, it detracts from their performance, they say.

Researchers looked at the effect on negotiating for a second hand car or a pay rise, but say it could hold true across a range of situations, from a sporting challenge to public speaking and exams.


Dr Ashley Brown told Psychological Science that physiological arousal isn’t always detrimental, explaining: ‘It turns out that the effect depends on whether you are someone who dreads or looks forward to negotiating.

‘It’s not inherently harmful.’

After assessing participants attitudes towards negotiating, they asked them to walk on a treadmill while bartering over the price of a second hand car.

A study found that signs traditionally interpreted as nervousness may actually increase one’s negotiating power

Some were told to walk quickly, to increase their heart rates, while others strolled at a leisurely pace.

Among those with negative attitudes toward negotiation, those who had increased heart rate expressed being less satisfied with their negotiations in comparison to the slow-walking participants.

But those who initially reported positive attitudes were more likely to express greater satisfaction with the negotiation after walking at a faster pace.

A second experiment, this time over a pay rise, suggested that physical stimulation may even enhance the negotiating abilities of those who looked forward to it.

They were able to achieve better outcomes while walking quickly than their peers who stayed comparatively still.

But those who hated negotiation again performed worse with exercise.

Dr Brown said that the tests showed people who can’t stand negotiating seemed to interpret arousal as a negative sign of nervousness, meaning it had a detrimental effect on their performance.

But those who relish a chance to negotiate seem to interpret arousal as a positive sign of excitement, making them feel ‘revved up,’ and the arousal boosts their performance.

And it means that the advice to ‘just relax’ before a testing task may be outdated, say Dr Brown.

He said: ‘We speculate that this polarizing effect of physiological arousal is more widely applicable to other contexts such as public speaking, competitive sports, or test performance, to name a few.’

He said that the findings ‘provide insight into potential strategies that individuals who dread negotiation could use to minimize the observed detrimental effects of arousal’.

This entry was posted in Culture, Education, Employability, Health and Wellbeing, Humour, Psychology, Society, Students, Uncategorized, Woo Woo and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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