My HormonologyThe next time a female salesperson or casino host pats you on the back, keep this in mind: A gentle touch from a woman makes you more likely to take risks, according to a study in the journal Psychological Science. The researchers chalk it up to our childhood upbringing: Mothers use gentle touch to make their babies feel secure, which encourages infants to explore and be more willing to take the risks that come with trying out something new, like different food, a toy or walking.

Although this study didn’t examine hormone levels, past research shows that gentle, welcome touch also sparks a rise in oxytocin, a hormone that has been credited with making us more trusting of others.

How can you apply this to your everyday life? Think twice before plunking down a pile of money on a new washing machine, car, house or other large purchase if the salesperson is a woman and gently pats you on the back or arm. And, go ahead and harness this power yourself to encourage friends and family to take any type of positive risks they want to do, but are nervous about, such as signing up for a new class, singles event or athletic competition!