Touching Sandpaper Increases Empathy

Posted: Mar 27 2016, 6:58am CDT | by , Updated: Mar 27 2016, 10:35pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Touching Sandpaper Increases Empathy
Photo Credit: Getty Images

New study finds surprising link between sandpaper and empathy.

Not getting enough charitable donations? Try having people to touch sandpaper before you ask for money. According to a new study touching rough surfaces triggers the emotion of empathy, which motivates people to donate to non-profit organizations.

"We found that when people were experiencing mild discomfort as a result of touching a rough surface, they were more aware of discomfort in their immediate environment and could better empathize with individuals who were suffering," said Chen Wang, an assistant marketing professor at Drexel University in Pennsylvania, US.

The study, published online in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, showed that the findings could have significant implications for less well-known charities are trying to raise money.

"Often smaller charities invest a lot of money in advertising to build awareness, but our data suggests that introducing haptic roughness into outreach materials could be an innovative and cost-effective approach," Wang pointed out.

In one experiment, the team tested brain activity when participants viewed painful versus neutral images.

In some trials the participants held an object wrapped in sandpaper -- known as haptic roughness -- while they saw the pictures. In other trials they held an object wrapped in smooth paper.

The participants showed more brain activity when touching the sandpaper than the smooth paper, particularly when viewing the painful images.

In another experiment the researchers asked one group of participants to wash their hands with a smooth soap and the other with a rough, exfoliating solution.

Then each group filled out questionnaires rating their willingness to donate to a charity.

The group that had used the rough hand wash was more willing than the soft soap group to donate to a lesser-known foundations.

The study suggested that organizations could include rough-textured material in mailers or wrap clipboards in sandpaper to improve donation levels for the 30 percent of smaller non-profits nationwide that raise less than $100,000 in donations annually.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/2" rel="author">Luigi Lugmayr</a>
Luigi Lugmayr () is the founding chief Editor of I4U News and brings over 15 years experience in the technology field to the ever evolving and exciting world of gadgets. He started I4U News back in 2000 and evolved it into vibrant technology magazine.
Luigi can be contacted directly at




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