US researchers have confirmed a strange link between touching rough surfaces and feeling for others, which could help charities raise more money.

"We found that when people were experiencing mild discomfort as a result of touching a rough surface, they were more aware of discomfort in their immediate environment," said Chen Wang, an assistant marketing professor at Drexel University, who led a study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

"They could better empathise with individuals who were suffering."

Dr Wang and his colleagues concluded the findings could have significant implications for less well-known charities.