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Hugs can make you feel better, science confirms

05 October 2018

According to a new study, a hug really does make you feel better after an argument. The researchers found that simple hugs were associated with an uptick in positive mood markers and a reduction in negative ones, while the opposite was true of relationship conflict.

The collected data is analyzed and deduced a General algorithm, which showed that the arms did not give the person's mood much worse after the incident of conflict in comparison with those participants who experienced stress but didn't hug anyone on the same day.

'Mechanistically, theorists have proposed that one of the key pathways through which interpersonal touch benefits well-being is by helping buffer against the deleterious consequences of psychological stress'. The idea was to study the effects of physical touch in a generalized frame, since most studies have largely focused on the role of hugs in romantic relationships.

According to new research, receiving hugs - a common support behavior that individuals engage in with a wide range of social partners - may buffer against deleterious changes in mood associated with interpersonal conflict.

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Murphy and Stratyner agreed that people can likely tell the difference between a heartfelt hug and a more perfunctory one.

And the results showed that the more hugs someone took part in, the better they felt, especially when associated with the typical ups and downs of social interactions.

Assessing more than 400 adults, scientists found that getting a hug on the day of a conflict was linked to smaller drops in positive emotions and a smaller rise in negative ones.

The results from the huge community sample suggest that hugs can be used as a solution to decrease interpersonal distress for both men and women.

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Overall, the findings suggest hugs may be a simple but effective support tool for both men and women experiencing interpersonal distress.

"This research is in its early stages", Murphy adds.

"The lack of specificity regarding from whom individuals received hugs also restricted our ability to identify whether hugs from specific types of social partners were more effective than those from others", they explained in the paper. "However, our study suggests that consensual hugs might be useful for showing support to somebody enduring relationship conflict", Murphy said.

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Hugs can make you feel better, science confirms