Touched to win—you feel me?

March 12, 2010 at 1:44 am 1 comment

A new study by researchers at U.C. Berkeley has found that the level of physical contact shared among teammates is associated with team success.

In a forthcoming paper to be published by the journal Emotion, psychologists Michael W. Kraus, Cassy Huang, and Dacher Keltner “coded every bump, hug and high-five in a single game by each team in the NBA.” As summarized by the NYT, “good teams tended to be touchier than bad ones… The same was true for players.” Boston Celtics all-star Kevin Garnett, for example, reached out and touched four of his teammates within 600 milliseconds of shooting a free throw. Less productive players rarely initiated physical contact with others.

To correct for the possibility that the better teams touch more often simply because they are winning, the researchers rated performance based not on points or victories but on a sophisticated measure of how efficiently players and teams managed the ball — their ratio of assists to giveaways, for example. And even after the high expectations surrounding the more talented teams were taken into account, the correlation persisted. Players who made contact with teammates most consistently and longest tended to rate highest on measures of performance, and the teams with those players seemed to get the most out of their talent.

Read the entire article here.

The always exceptional Mind Hacks blog has some more thoughts and related research about “the emotional influence of brief touches.”



Entry filed under: play, think. Tags: , , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Josh  |  March 12, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    Again, great stuff, JR!


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Jason R. Atwood

I'm an avid trail runner and doctoral student at U.C. Berkeley who studies motivation and the relationship between the mind and body. This blog is a forum to share research, news, and musings about these topics of interest. More

Play is the beginning of knowledge.

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