handshake
June 22, 2016
Shivali Best

As any serious job-hunter knows, a firm handshake is crucial when it comes to impressing potential employers. But it seems that the strength of handshakes could be on the decline.

New research has found that men and women under 30 have a weaker grip strength than they did in 1985. A study in 2008, showed that those who score highly with handshake raters are also considered to be the most likely to be hired by job interviewers

Studying Hand Grip

The researchers asked 237 participants aged under 30 to exert as much force as they could on a hand dynamometer, which measures grip force in pounds.

The results showed that strength scores were lower for both men and women than they were in 1985. Specifically, men's hand strength decreased by 20 pounds and women's hand strength decreased by about 10 pounds. The only group where this was not the case and hand strength did not show significant changes were women aged 30-34. 

The research comes from the Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, and was published in the Journal of Hand Therapy. The researchers suggest that this change could be caused by a reliance on technology, and the fact that fewer people work in manual labour in which they must really use their hands. 

Speaking to NPR Professor Elizabeth Fain, who led the study, said: 'As a society, we’re no longer agricultural or manufacturing. What we’re doing more now is technology-related, especially for millennials.'

A lower grip strength could lead to a weak handshake, which could be an issue for millennials attending job interviews. 

A Firm Handshake Could get you a Job

A study in 2008 looked at 98 undergraduates taking part in mock interviews with businesses. As each was graded on their overall performance, five 'handshake raters' also marked them on their grip, strength, duration, vigour and eye contact.

Professor Greg Stewart, from the University of Iowa, who led the study, said those who scored highly with the handshake raters were also considered to be the most likely to be by the interviewers. Students with 'wimpy' shakes were judged to be more timid and less impressive.

The study also found women with a firm handshake were likely to be evaluated more favourably than their male counterparts.

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