Hugs make you feel better after a fight, U.S. researchers find

Science Says You Should Embrace Hugging

Science Says You Should Embrace Hugging

Interestingly, it did not seem to matter if the huggers were in a romantic relationship at the time of said hug - the mood-related benefits still stood.

The researchers interviewed 404 adult men and women every night for 14 consecutive days about their arguments, how they resolved them, and how they felt afterwards.

When someone is upset, are you tempted to give them a hug?

The study appears in the journal PLoS ONE. At the start of the study, each person underwent a physical exam and answered questions regarding their health and their social network. 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.

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Those who shared a hug with the person they'd been fighting with were more likely to feel positive emotions after, and less likely to feel negative emotions. While factors like age and gender did not show much influence on the effects of a hug, women reported a higher number of hugs than men overall.

'Conflicts were independently associated with greater concurrent negative affect and lesser concurrent positive affect, though not with next day negative or positive affect. This may be because people revert to counterproductive behaviors - like giving unsolicited advice, or jumping straight into problem-solving - when they try to support their loved ones, unintentionally making them feel incompetent or criticized, Murphy says.

A 2015 Carnegie Mellon study found that those who were hugged more had a lower risk of catching colds after being exposed to the virus, Murphy noted.

Consensual hugging might not only make a good day better but also help reduce negative feelings after being exposed to conflict, according to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania.

Murphy and Stratyner agreed that people can likely tell the difference between a heartfelt hug and a more perfunctory one. And hugs might have a leg up even in this category: Research also suggests that physical touch can prompt beneficial physiological changes, such as reductions in stress-related brain and heart activity and the release of the mood-enhancing hormone oxytocin, Murphy says.

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