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Affectionate touch contributes to stress and conflict management

For most people, receiving affectionate touch from a romantic partner just feels good. What people may not know is that receiving hugs, kisses, and back rubs may contribute to long-term health and well-being and the maintenance of relationship satisfaction over time, says Syracuse University’s Brittany Jakubiak, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology.

Part of her research centers on understanding how close relationships promote individual well-being. Prof. Jakubiak has published research in Personality and Social Psychology Review about the ways affectionate touch promotes relational, psychological and physical well-being.

Jakubiak says:

“For most people, receiving affectionate touch from a romantic partner just feels good. What people may not know is that receiving hugs, kisses, and back rubs may contribute to long-term health and well-being and the maintenance of relationship satisfaction over time. By isolating the immediate consequences of receiving affectionate touch, we have begun to uncover why touch may promote well-being for individuals and their relationships.

“When people receive touch, they feel cared for, protected, and loved, likely because they infer that the touch-provider has genuine affection for them. For this reason—combined with physiological changes resulting from the physical touch experience—people who receive touch are better able to manage personal stressors and relationship conflicts, and they may be willing to deepen investment in their relationships because they trust their partner to be responsive in the future.”

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