Are you a hugger? If you are, you may have noticed that receiving hugs help guard against negative changes in mood arising from conflict with others. A recent study from Carnegie Mellon University validates this experience.
Individuals who engage in more frequent interpersonal touch experience improved health
According to the study, individuals who engage in more frequent interpersonal touch experience improved health – both physical and psychological – as well as better relationships. Researchers have suggested that the benefits of interpersonal touch may arise by protecting against negative consequences of psychological stress, and that touch may actually specifically buffer interpersonal conflict.
This has important implications since interpersonal conflict is associated with a wide range of negative psychological and physical outcomes. Previous research in this area has largely focused on touch in romantic relationships, but this study focuses on non-romantic hugs.
Researchers interviewed 404 adult men and women nightly for 14 consecutive days
In the study, researchers interviewed 404 adult men and women nightly for 14 consecutive days. Interview questions related largely to their daily conflicts, hug receipt, and positive and negative moods. Receiving a hug on the day of a conflict was associated with a smaller decrease in positive emotion and smaller increase in negative emotion. The study also found that a hug on a previous day continued to attenuate negative mood the next day.
Studies that underline social engagement and closeness related to overall health
While these results are merely correlational, they do further support other studies that underline social engagement and closeness as being intimately related to well-being and overall health.
- Murphy MLM, Janicki-deverts D, Cohen S. Receiving a hug is associated with the attenuation of negative mood that occurs on days with interpersonal conflict. PLoS ONE. 2018;13(10):e0203522.
Razi Berry is the founder and publisher of the journal Naturopathic Doctor News & Review that has been in print since 2005 and the premier consumer-faced website of naturopathic medicine, NaturalPath. She is the host of The Natural Cancer Prevention Summit and The Heart Revolution-Heal, Empower and Follow Your Heart, and the popular 10 week Sugar Free Summer program. From a near death experience as a young girl that healed her failing heart, to later overcoming infertility and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia through naturopathic medicine, Razi has lived the mind/body healing paradigm. Her projects uniquely capture the tradition and philosophy of naturopathy: The healing power of nature, the vital life force in every living thing and the undeniable role that science and mind/body medicine have in creating health and overcoming dis-ease. Follow Razi on Facebook at Razi Berry and join us at Love is Medicine to explore the convergence of love and health.