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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 7, 2010 / 25 Tammuz, 5770

The hard truth : How human touch influences our emotions

By Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Sometimes it takes a scientific study to reveal the obvious. The latest discovery -- that touch influences how we perceive things -- is something like the warning on a steaming cup of coffee.

Just as everyone knows that spilling hot liquid on one's lap will produce a burning sensation, everyone knows that tactile sensations convey information about the object or person being touched. The question is: How do we interpret this information? And what actions might we take in response?

Joshua M. Ackerman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sought to answer those questions through a series of psychological experiments. He concluded that an object's texture, hardness and weight influence our judgments and decisions.

Again, the obvious: Weight conveys importance ("weighty issues") and hardness is associated with rigidity. At last we understand the church pew.

Despite the foregoneness of these findings, the implications are significant. How we literally feel things can influence everything from our choices when voting to spending money and interacting with others.

In one experiment, for example, Ackerman gave 54 volunteers clipboards with a job applicant's résumé attached. Those holding the heavier clipboards rated the candidate more highly, deducing that the applicant was more serious.

In another experiment, volunteers were asked to complete a puzzle with pieces that were either smooth or sandpaper rough, after which they read a transcript of a social encounter. Guess who interpreted the interaction as more adversarial? This rough interpretation also affected subsequent decision making, with the sandpaper group more inclined toward tough negotiation.

Apparently, we don't have to touch things only with our hands to get a feel for something. Our posteriors are equally receptive to hard-soft messaging. Hence the chair experiment, in which subjects were asked to make offers on a car. The dealer would refuse the first offer and a second offer immediately followed.

Those sitting on hard chairs made lower second offers than those sitting on softer chairs.

We might extrapolate to our hearts' content, but it seems wise that those wishing to preserve their virtue in the dating world might avoid the down cushion. And why not make those United Nations chairs a little comfier? Might we begin exporting Barcaloungers to the Middle East?

Such musings led my meandering mind to the subject of books and other dead-tree reading products in the digital age. I belong to that subgroup of individuals who smell a book before reading. (If you are not a book-smeller, we have nothing further to discuss.)

The tactile experience of reading is also crucial to my reading pleasure. Holding a book compares to nothing short of a baby's contact with his favorite blankie. Consistent with Ackerman's findings, a hardback is superior to a paperback precisely because it is more solid, weightier and, therefore, more permanent, more important, better.

But might touching words on a printed page vs. reading them online also be relevant to one's comprehension and judgment? Are words consigned to tangible and tactually rewarding paper more likely to register in our minds than those that float on hard tablets subject to the blinkering life span of a battery or extinguishable by a bolt of lightning?

Admit it: You print out the stories you really want to study. Think, too, how differently we consider a handwritten letter vs. an e-mail. Even an e-mail printed out seems more important -- more concrete -- than what we view on the screen. It is, alas, more human.

Part of the pleasure of a real, snail-mail letter isn't only the effort involved in putting words to parchment but also the fact of the letter writer having touched the same piece of paper. The exchange isn't only an act of communication but one of intimacy.

We are all part of this immense digital experiment and we know not where it leads. But the tactile vacuum inherent in the medium can't be insignificant. Offhand, it seems that our technologically enhanced communications, though miraculous in speed and access, have become harder and rougher with the medium.

Reaching out and touching someone has become easier than ever, but we never really make contact. Hunkered over our keyboards, tapping and clicking messages to the vast Other, we have become a universe of lone rangers keeping the company of our own certitude.

Perhaps what the world needs now is a kinder, softer desk chair.

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