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Wedding_hugs.jpgWe’ve all been touched by touch. Happy touch–a supportive arm squeeze, a lover’s touch, a hug from a dear friend. And less happy–a brusque bicep punch, an unnerving head pat. Those who do touch research are finding that physical, non-verbal communication is even more powerful in expressing emotion than they realized. A super-interesting article in the New York Times this week outlined the new studies. The best tidbits, boiled down:

 

           In one study participants were  blindfolded and had to guess which of eight emotions someone was expressing through touch. They guessed right up to 70 percent of the time.

       A sympathetic touch from a doctor leaves people with the impression that the visit lasted twice as long, compared with estimates from people who were untouched.”

       Basketball players who touch each other more do better–both on the team and individual level.

       Couples who touch more are more satisfied with their relationships (unclear if this is a chicken-egg thing)

The reasons for touch’s magic are scientifically mysterious, but some guesses are that warm touch may set off a flood of oxytocin–a feel-good chemical that counters stress–in the brain. It also stimulates parts of the brain associated with emotion, perhaps giving us the ability to relax and feel supported.

Science, schmience, really, though. Touch is just so healthy and nourishing and delicious when it’s given and delivered with love. And, as one professor in the article, Dacher Keltner, author of “Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life,” observed: “It is the first language we learn.” Have you been touched by touch lately?

[Image via: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wedding_hugs.jpg]

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