Take note the next time you are holding hands with someone: Is your hand on top or in front with your palm facing back? In a recent study researchers observed heterosexual couples, adult/child pairs, and older/younger child pairs holding hands in public. Replicating and extending previous research on hand-holding, men in the couple pairs, adults in the adult/child pairs, and older children in the child pairs were more likely to have their hand in front with their palm facing back indicating social dominance, or alternatively, protection. This study shows that something as simple as hand position can signal one’s social role. What role are you signaling?
Pettijohn, T. F., Ahmed, S. F., Dunlap, A. V., & Dickey, L. N. (2013). Who’s got the upper hand? Hand holding behaviors among romantic couples and families. Current Psychology: A Journal for Diverse Perspectives on Diverse Psychological Issues, doi:10.1007/s12144-013-9175-4