A loving touch – a slow caress or stroke – may sustain a positive sense of self.
So-called “affective touch”, where skin is stroked slowly – similar to baby massage – has previously been shown to ease anxiety in both adults and infants. But now researchers say it could improve your sense of self.
It says that slow, light touch is more pleasant than fast touch.
The study was conducted in adults and published in the journal Frontiers of Psychology, but it may have implications for children, too.
“As affective touch is typically received from a loved one, these findings further highlight how close relationships involve behaviors that may play a crucial role in the construction of a sense of self,” said Laura Crucianelli, the researcher who carried out the study.
Another author on the study, Dr Katerina Fotopoulou, said: “The next step for our team is to examine whether being deprived of social signals, such as affective touch from a parent during early development, may also lead to abnormalities in the formation of a healthy body image and a healthy sense of self, for example in patients with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa.”