Give Me Five? Examining the Psychophysiological Effects of High-Fives in Athletes

  • Franziska LautenbachEmail author
  • Damian Jeraj
  • Jonna Loeffler
  • Lisa Musculus


High-fives are a phenomenon that is frequently observed in sports. However, investigations on effects of high-fives are missing. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to examine psychophysiological effects of high-fives. From an embodied cognition perspective, dynamic, upward movements compared to downward movements should activate positive concepts that are represented by psychological as well as physiological states. Thirty-four athletes performed high- and low-fives (dynamic movements) as opposed to high and low static postures (control conditions) in a double-blind, within-subject design. Psychological states (i.e., feeling motivated, feeling strong) and physiological changes (i.e., cortisol, testosterone) due to the manipulation were measured. Results showed the predicted significant interaction effect for cortisol changes, but not for the other psychological (i.e., feeling motivated, feeling strong) and physiological (testosterone) state measures. In detail, a decrease in cortisol was found after athletes performed high-fives compared to low-fives. The observed effect on cortisol should be considered with caution and needs to be replicated, however, might add information to the current discussion about the crucial relevance of movement for embodied cognition effects. Future research could investigate the effects of high-fives with a partner and add performance parameters to provide more information on the effects of high-fives on performance in sport.


Embodied cognition Movements Body memory Cortisol Testosterone Motivation 



We want to thank Nora Winkelmann, Justin Klanderman, Lisa Dammeier, and Robert Gundermann for their critical feedback or help in data collection. Also, we would like to thank all our participants.

Authors Contribution

All authors contributed to the study design equally. Data collection was performed by NW, JK, LD. All authors contributed to data analysis and interpretation as well as writing and approving the manuscript for submission equally. Thus, every author contributed equally to this work and should be considered joint first authors. The current order of authors is randomized.


This research project is funded by the German Sport University Cologne (Grant Number 920144. The funding sources are neither involved in the study design, data collection, data analysis, interpretation of the data, the writing, or in the decision to submit for publication.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declared that they had no conflicts of interest with respect to their authorship or the publication of this article.

Supplementary material

Supplementary material 1 (MOV 29685 kb)

Supplementary material 2 (MOV 28495 kb)

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Supplementary material 4 (MOV 27848 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of PsychologyGerman Sport University CologneCologneGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Sport Psychology and Sport PedagogyLeipzig UniversityLeipzigGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Sports ScienceFriedrich-Schiller-University JenaJenaGermany

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