Physical Analysis of Handshaking Between Humans: Mutual Synchronisation and Social Context

  • Artem MelnykEmail author
  • Patrick Hénaff


One very popular form of interpersonal interaction used in various situations is the handshake (HS), which is an act that is both physical and social. This article aims to demonstrate that the paradigm of synchrony that refers to the psychology of individuals’ temporal movement coordination could also be considered in handshaking. For this purpose, the physical features of the human HS are investigated in two different social situations: greeting and consolation. The duration and frequency of the HS and the force of the grip have been measured and compared using a prototype of a wearable system equipped with several sensors. The results show that an HS can be decomposed into four phases, and after a short physical contact, a synchrony emerges between the two persons who are shaking hands. A statistical analysis conducted on 31 persons showed that, in the two different contexts, there is a significant difference in the duration of HS, but the frequency of motion and time needed to synchronize were not impacted by the context of an interaction.


Handshake Synchrony Data glove Gesture Physical interaction Temporal movement coordination 



We thank Eric Wajnberg for reading the manuscript and his help in statistical analysis. Artem Melnyk thanks professor Philippe Gaussier for the series of fruitful discussion about synchrony phenomena, Olga Kieffer and Dr. Alain Coulbois for support and contribution to the manuscript. The authors also wish to thank all the participants for their cooperation.


This study was partially funded by French Embassy in Ukraine and French National Research Agency (ANR-09-CORD-014 INTERACT).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.HÉPHAÏSTOS project, INRIAUniversité Côte d’AzurNiceFrance
  2. 2.LORIA UMR 7503University of Lorraine-INRIA-CNRSNancyFrance

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