A new study finds that hugs can help people feel better when they experience conflict
05 October, 2018, 23:05
Those who shared a hug with the person they'd been fighting with were more likely to feel positive emotions after, and less likely to feel negative emotions.
A newstudy, conducted by Michael Murphy of Carnegie Mellon University along with co-authors Denise Janicki-Deverts and Sheldon Cohen, analyzed the social interactions of more than 400 people over two weeks. There was a clear correlation between hugs and improved mood. Scientists have observed that the emotional state was recovering from the hug quickly.
The positive effect of a hug may also linger beyond the momentary squeeze, with those interviewed reporting an improved mood the next day.
'Conflicts were independently associated with greater concurrent negative affect and lesser concurrent positive affect, though not with next day negative or positive affect. While factors like age and gender did not show much influence on the effects of a hug, women reported a higher number of hugs than men overall. On one hand, studies have found that people who perceive their social networks to be loving and supportive tend to fare better under stress. This may be because people revert to counterproductive behaviors - like giving unsolicited advice, or jumping straight into problem-solving - when they try to support their loved ones, unintentionally making them feel incompetent or criticized, Murphy says.
Of course, some people don't like to be hugged, and even for touchy-feely folks, responses likely vary depending on who the hug comes from. Research on touch is limited due to previous studies focusing largely on roles of touch in romantic relationships. This work is still in early stages; questions remain on when, how, and for whom hugs are most helpful, early findings are suggestive that consensual hugs may be useful for showing support to somebody enduring relationship conflict.
Hug it out! A new study suggests that just reaching out and touching someone - consensually, of course - can reduce bad feelings associated with the typical ups and downs of our social interactions.
"Hugs, at least among close others, might be a simple, straightforward, effective way to show support to someone you care about who is experiencing conflict with a relationship in their life", Murphy concluded.
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