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The Virtual Midas Touch: Helping Behavior After a Mediated Social Touch

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2 Author(s)
Haans, A. ; Dept. of Ind. Eng. & Innovation Sci., Eindhoven Univ. of Technol., Eindhoven, Netherlands ; Usselsteijn, W.A.

A brief touch on the upper arm increases people's altruistic behavior and willingness to comply with a request. In this paper, we investigate whether this Midas touch phenomenon would also occur under mediated conditions (i.e., touching via an arm strap equipped with electromechanical actuators). Helping behavior was more frequently endorsed in the touch, compared to the no-touch condition, but this difference was not found to be statistically significant. However, a meta-analytical comparison with published research demonstrated that the strength of the virtual Midas touch is of the same magnitude as that of the Midas touch in unmediated situations. The present experiment, thus, provides empirical evidence that touch-like qualities can be attributed to electromechanical stimulation. This is important for the field of mediated social touch of which the design rationale is based on the assumption that mediated touch by means of tactile feedback technologies is processed in ways similar to real physical contact.

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Haptics, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:2 ,  Issue: 3 )