Hugs are typically associated with affection and a general fuzzy feeling of friendliness.
Meanwhile, negativity has been linked to a general decline in one’s physiological and physical wellbeing, with research citing how higher rates of loss and humiliation can be a predictor of later life depression. Now science boffins have delved into the human psyche to find evidence that a warm embrace helps buffer against “concurrent negative affect.”
In an effort to pin down the psychological impact of a hug, Pennsylvania’s Carnegie Mellon University asked a group of men and women to document their feelings of conflict over a two-week period.
As part of the research, the 404 adult men and women were interviewed every night for 14 days in a row about their moods. Details about whether they had been hugged or not were also gathered.
The study, led by researcher Michael Murphy and published in the Plos One journal, concluded that people who got a hug on a day of conflict displayed “improved next day negative affect compared to days when conflict occurred but no hug was received.”
Basically, the study suggests that the positive impact of a hug may carry on long after the embrace has occurred. “Interpersonal touch behaviors such as hugs may buffer against stressors such as conflict because they increase perceptions of social support availability by tangibly conveying care and empathy,” the study states.
While Murphy admits the research into the hug is in the early stages, he said the recent findings suggest “consensual hugs might be useful for showing support to somebody enduring relationship conflict.”