Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On

Feel it with the Killer (YouTube).

Yeah, baby, there’s a whole lotta shakin’ going on . . . but to what effect? Set the Local with Box and Play.

Forty-seven romantically unattached undergraduates (25 men, 22 women; mean age = 21.08 years) were randomly assigned to either a physically unstable condition or a physically stable condition. In the physically unstable condition, participants sat at a slightly wobbly table and chair: The wobble was achieved by shortening two of the chair’s nonadjacent legs by approximately ¼ in. and securing a small pebble to the bottom of one table leg. In the physically stable condition, participants sat at an identical, but stable, table and chair.

I said shake, baby, shake. . . ohhhhh.

. . . we asked participants to judge other people’s relationship stability. Participants rated the likelihood that the marriages of four well-known couples (e.g., Barack and Michelle Obama: married 19 years, two children) would break up in the next 5 years (1 = extremely unlikely to dissolve, 7 = extremely likely to dissolve).


Participants indicated their preferences for various traits in a potential romantic partner (1 = not at all desirable, 7 = extremely desirable). We included traits that would provide a sense of psychological stability (trustworthy, reliable) or instability (spontaneous, adventurous), as well as traits with less relevance to instability (loving, good with money, funny, supportive).

Attitude indicators right? An evaluative response to relational and romantic possibilities. Let’s Count the Change with all that shakin’.

A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed that, as predicted, participants in the physically unstable condition perceived less stability in other people’s relationships (M = 4.80, SD = 1.12) than did participants in the physically stable condition (M = 5.55, SD = 0.84), F(1, 43) = 6.28, p = .016, ηp2 = .13 . . . More important, physical instability affected preferences: A one-way ANOVA revealed that participants in the physically unstable condition reported a greater desire for stability traits in a partner (M = 5.00, SD = 0.78) than did participants in the physically stable condition (M = 4.38, SD = 0.72), F(1, 45) = 8.18, p = .006, ηp2 = .15

Those ηp2 thingies indicate Medium Windowpanes, about a 35/65, so you’d know who was shaking, baby, shake it. Here’s a bar chart to illustrate.

Put people in a shaking machine and you get wobbly attitudes. As the researchers advise.

Our study confirms that subtle bodily experiences affect not only people’s perceptions of others, but also their preferences in others: Participants who experienced physical instability perceived less stability in other people’s relationships and desired more stability in their own potential partners than did participants who did not experience such instability.

Again we see Embodied Persuasion and how the body affects the mind and most particularly the attitude. Shake it, baby, and you shake not only Baby, but you shake Baby’s evaluation. See the direction of the shake: Negative! We’ve all experienced the Wobbly Table in restaurants, classrooms, board rooms, jeepers, anywhere there are tables and chairs, we’ve all gone wobbly sometime and we don’t like it.

Get analytic. Talk out of both sides of your mouth and extoll the virtues of your competitors product or service that the Other Guys read about while sitting in a wobbly chair at a wobbly table. Then move the Other Guys to your product or service while They sit in a stable chair at a stable table. Shake bad news, baby.

At least doing business in public . . . doing business in private is a Local of a different shake, baby.

Let’s get out of here with the Killer.

Now lets get real low one time now
Shake baby shake
All you gotta honey is kinda stand in one spot
wiggle around just a little bit
that’s what you gotta do yeah
Oh babe whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on

David R. Kille, Amanda L. Forest, and Joanne V. Wood. (2012). Tall, Dark, and Stable: Embodiment Motivates Mate Selection Preferences Psychological Science 0956797612457392, first published on November 12, 2012