Research indicates that holding a heavier weight (in this case a heavier clipboard vs. a lighter one) influences the decisions people make. Much in line with the use of weight to denote importance in languages worldwide, people give more ‘weight’ to the importance of an issue if their clipboard is heavier. From the article:
Jostmann also showed that people are less likely to take matters lightly if they’re holding something heavier. In his third task, he asked 49 recruits to rate the mayor of Amsterdam in terms of his competence, likeability, powerlessness, trustworthiness, intelligence, corruption, importance and charisma. They also had to give their opinion about Amsterdam itself – whether it was a great city and how much they enjoyed being in it. The weight of the clipboards didn’t affect the evaluations of either the mayor or the city. However, the two sets of scores were more strongly correlated among the volunteers who held the heavier board. Jostmann thinks that the extra weight made people invest that little bit more mental effort in awarding their scores – hence the more consistent rankings across the mayor- and city-based questions. This result, I feel, is a bit more tenuous. Jostmann argues the case that satisfaction with the mayor is an indirect measure of satisfaction with the city, so the two scores should match to some extent. That seems reasonable, but it hasn’t been demonstrated, which makes interpreting the study a bit more difficult.