The Science of Touch


"In recent years, a wave of studies has documented some incredible emotional and physical health benefits that come from touch. This research is suggesting that touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding, and health."

"To me, the science of touch convincingly suggests that we’re wired to—we need to—connect with other people on a basic physical level. To deny that is to deprive ourselves of some of life’s greatest joys and deepest comforts."

Studies on touch by Berkeley University

 "In the Institute's experiments, touch lessened pain, improved pulmonary function, increased growth in infants, lowered blood glucose and improved immune function."

An article summarising studies by the Miami Touch Research Institute 

 ​"Social scientists have shown in many studies over the years that supportive touch can have good outcomes in a number of different realms."

"In addition to calming us down and reducing our stress response, a friendly touch also increases release of the oxytocin — also called the "cuddle hormone" — which affects trust behaviours."

"The surging of oxytocin makes you feel more trusting and connected. And the cascade of electrical impulses slows your heart and lowers your blood pressure, making you feel less stressed and more soothed. Remarkably, this complex surge of events in the brain and body are all initiated by a simple, supportive touch."

​An article from NPR speaking to a touch researcher and an experimental psychologist. 


"While embracing strangers may terrify those of us who value personal space, there’s real science behind the benefits of positive touch. From reducing stress to combating depression, cuddling is the coziest medicine.

"Last year, a study found that hugging could help fight the common cold...  participants (exposed to the virus) who had strong support systems and received frequent hugs experienced less severe symptoms."

​"Humans are social creatures, which means we love hanging out with each other and being touched. In fact, simple human touch—like hand holding, hugging, and cuddling—releases a cocktail of hormones in our brains including dopamine, serotonin, and the aforementioned oxytocin—all of which make us feel good. Oxytocin has also been shown to decrease depression."

"Not only does cuddling with someone make us feel safer during a scary movie, it can also make us feel safer about life in general. Over the course of several studies, researchers found that human touch had the ability to quell existential fears—the big fears we carry around about life and death—especially in people with low self-esteem. In one study, participants felt less anxious about death after a simple touch on the shoulder compared to participants who weren’t touched."

​An article citing various studies. 

 "A full-body hug stimulates your nervous system while decreasing feelings of loneliness, combating fear, increasing self-esteem, defusing tension, and showing appreciation." 

 "Extended and long hugs can increase the release of serotonin which eventually increases happiness and promotes a joyful mood. "

"The release of oxytocin reduces cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone that promotes pain and negativity in your body."

“A hug, pat on the back, and even a friendly handshake are processed by the reward center in the central nervous system, which is why they can have a powerful impact on the human psyche, making us feel happiness and joy… And it doesn’t matter if you’re the toucher or touchee. The more you connect with others — on even the smallest physical level — the happier you’ll be.”

​"Cuddling can help in reducing and even curing insomnia. People who have sleep disorders can be helped by a nurturing cuddle. Cuddling soothes your nervous points, relaxing them and giving you a good peaceful sleep."

​"With all of that evidence piling up… it may be time to pull out all the stops to get the amount of cuddling you need to be healthy and happy." 

An article quoting various sources.