The hand is a corona denier.

There is no other way of explaining why, with the gradual return to normality, more and more handshake greetings are observed again.

The curious thing is that even those who choose this shape seem to be surprised by their gripping nature.

Marie Lisa Kehler

Deputy head of the regional section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

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Just imagine: finally another party. One on which many strange faces cavort. Introduction of participants. "Pleasant." The hand is stretched out - and reflexively grasped. Then a brief, embarrassed silence. Nobody, neither the reaching out nor the grasping one, seems to have consciously given the order to carry out the welcoming ceremony.

After a year and a half of the pandemic, the handshake is frowned upon. However, the relapse into old patterns in no way surprised the social psychologist Tilman Allert. “We are in love with the habits,” he says. Even more: Allert, senior professor at Goethe University, advocates the thesis that the handshake will outlast the pandemic. Because it is an integral part of communication, which largely takes place unconsciously. “Hands are in constant competition with eyes. I'm grasping something, I'm grasping something. This also applies to a counterpart. They are more insightful. "

With the handshake, the assumptions that were previously made about a stranger, mostly subconsciously, are checked. Is the handshake strong or rather slack? "It is a deep-seated gesture that we will fall back on after the corona pandemic", practiced for a lifetime, a reliable communication opener and hypothesis checker. “If I understand something, then I've got an idea,” says Allert. At the beginning of October he will publish a book on this subject with the title “Close enough to touch - From the beginnings of thinking” - a homage to the hand. People strive to find out as much information as possible about their counterpart. A complex situation such as getting to know each other is therefore broken down into many small microsituations in order to be able to bundle the mass of information at all.

"A kiss, a hug, a handshake"

According to the social psychologist, rehearsed gestures help to structure the situation.

In his opinion, people strive for a “normalization” of the situation.

Communication gestures that have been practiced for years, such as handshakes, can help to bundle all the information - but also to relax the situation.

“A kiss, a hug, a handshake.

These are the first gestures that help when the strangeness of the other person is to be broken down. ”Because a touch reveals so much about the other person without even saying a word.

“Habits have the wonderful power to structure the situation,” says Allert. And that is sorely needed. “Normality has a potential for relief that we cannot even imagine. Only the burdens of normality are discussed. Not the cleverness of everyday life. ”On the other hand, people are seldom willing to learn new habits. He himself didn't even try to get used to the elbow or the foot greeting. “This is Kokolores,” says Allert. “I start a communication by introducing myself authentically. With this form of greeting you are almost ashamed that you expect such a thing from the other person. ”Again and again he observes how people who still decide to say the elbow, laugh embarrassed or explain what they are doing. Precisely because it was just a solution for the embarrassment.By suspending the handshake and the associated loss of information, the search for an adequate greeting and the unconscious attempt to assess the other person are superimposed on communication, the sociologist is certain.

Allert even sees the handshake as a stabilizing element for society. "Modern societies are trust-based societies," he says. It is assumed that the other person, even if he is still a stranger, wants “no harm”. "Corona has made this elementary assumption brittle." By not shaking hands, mistrust resonates with the greeting. Is the other one contagious? This suspicion has an impact on many levels of communication - for example on flirting. “The lightness is lost in the dictated masking. Communication loses its playful element, ”says Allert, who is firmly convinced that with the gradual return to normality, the handshake will prevail again. "The persistence of habit prevails."

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