Here's the mathematical formula for the perfect handshake that inspired a rap song


The Hilltop Hoods 2014 album Walking Under Stars was one of the best albums of last year. “Cosby Sweater” finished 3rd in the 2014 Triple J hottest 100 with two other songs off the album also making top 100. But it’s the fourth track on Walking Under Stars which in many ways is the most remarkable song on the album.

“The Art of the Handshake” references research undertaken at Manchester University in England to try to work out exactly the right combination of factors to make a perfect handshake. The songs lyrics include a voice over which says:

Not all cultures consider a firm handshake as a sign of respect; in fact a grip that’s too tight can often be considered as offensive.
Scientists at the University of Manchester, taking into account twelve different variables, developed a mathematical formula for the handshake to which people would be the most receptive.

Really? Yes, really.

Back in 2010 Professor Geoffrey Beattie, then of Manchester University, devised a formula which looked at 12 inputs to get the perfect handshake. Here’s the formula he came up with (via

Who knew a handshake was so complicated?

It’s not really though because each of the symbols represents a key ingredient of a handshake – you just never think of them.

    (e) is eye contact (1=none; 5=direct) 5;
    (ve) is verbal greeting (1=totally inappropriate; 5=totally appropriate) 5;
    (d) is Duchenne smile – smiling in eyes and mouth, plus symmetry on both sides of face, and slower offset (1=totally non-Duchenne smile (false smile); 5=totally Duchenne) 5;
    (cg) completeness of grip (1=very incomplete; 5=full) 5;
    (dr) is dryness of hand (1=damp; 5=dry) 4;
    (s) is strength (1= weak; 5=strong) 3;
    (p) is position of hand (1=back towards own body; 5=other person’s bodily zone) 3;
    (vi) is vigour (1=too low/too high; 5=mid) 3;
    (t) is temperature of hands (1=too cold/too hot; 5=mid) 3;
    (te) is texture of hands (5=mid; 1=too rough/too smooth) 3;
    (c) is control (1=low; 5=high) 3;
    (du) is duration (1= brief; 5=long) 3.

Professor Beattie said back in 2010:

The rules for men and women are the same: right hand, a complete grip and a firm squeeze (but not too strong) in a mid-point position between yourself and the other person, a cool and dry palm, approximately three shakes, with a medium level of vigour, held for no longer than two to three seconds, with eye contact kept throughout and a good natural smile with a slow offset with, of course, an appropriate accompanying verbal statement, make up the basic constituent parts for the perfect handshake.


NOW: Here’s the link to the Hilltop Hoods song “The Art of The Handshake”

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