What are the benefits of affective touch?
We seek affection, try to establish a connection, or attempt to communicate a need.
Various cultures use touch in various ways to display tenderness or respect, and other non-human primates use it to create a connection and establish social hierarchies.
Recently, however, some experts have expressed concern that Western societies are experiencing a moment of crisis, as physical touch becomes more strictly regulated and we are less and less likely to engage in social acts such as hugging.
As researchers from Finland noted in a study paper published last year, whether touch produces a positive or a negative effect is highly dependent on the context in which it occurs.
“Touch does not universally lead to positive emotions,” they explain. For instance, they note that “cultural differences can result in touch being construed as a breach of preferred interpersonal distance.”
At the same time, research has also found that touch is important for humans when it comes to communicating emotions and maintaining relationships — both romantic and otherwise.
In this Spotlight feature, we will look at the importance and benefits of touching, hugging, and kissing for a person’s health and well-being.
WHY TOUCH IS SO IMPORTANT
the best studies have demonstrated that seed— as well as the child of non-human primates — who grow up without affective touch have severe developmental point and are unable to inform socially.
Touching, and being touched, motivation special areas of our brain, thus influencing our conception processes, reactions, and even physiological responses.
For example, one study according to reports that brain scans have revealed that affective touch activates the orbitofrontal envelopment , a brain region associated with learning and decis judgement ion-making as well as with emotional and social conduct.
accurate experiments have also suggested that romantic kissing is an important tool — particularly for women — when it comes to choosing a partner, because the personalized chemical cocktail found in an individual’s salivate conveys important data to the brain about their physiological Correspondence.
Hug your way to a healthier heart
Science leans toward yes. In a study of 59 women, those who hugged their partners more often had a lower resting blood pressure than the women who rarely engaged in physical touch. “It is uncertain if this is related to a change in vagal tone, the release of oxytocin and other hormones and peptides, or from the feeling of comfort, support. Healthy blood pressure is key to fending off heart disease, pointing to hugs as a small but potentially significant way to achieve and maintain heart health.
The benefits of affective touch are extended to measures of physical health, as well as to mental health and social relations.
A study published in 2014 in the magazine psychological science He suggested that the stress mattress provided by shared hugs actually has a protective effect against respiratory infections.
In addition, among people who became ill, those who received emotional support in the form of affective touches showed less severe symptoms of infection.
Other studies showed that, in romantic couples where couples share frequent hugs, women tend to have lower blood pressure and heart rates, suggesting that this type of contact can benefit the heart literally, not just metaphorically.
Romantic kisses also help stimulate the immune system, research has shown. When we kissed, we transferred “80 million bacteria for each intimate kiss of 10 [seconds]”, The scientists report.
This may sound disgusting, but it is beneficial; This microbial exchange acts almost like a vaccine, familiarizing the immune system with possible new bacterial threats and strengthening its effectiveness against a more varied variety of pathogens.
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