In many societies, touching, such as hugs, kisses on the cheeks and hands, are a normal part of everyday life. Often in these kinds of societies, people are generally happier and feel more connected to not just family, but to the community as a whole.
There are even experiences of touch that are so common, we feel that we hardly notice them, such as, a pat on the back, or a touch of the arm when speaking to someone. Cutting edge research conducted by Dacher Keitner, editor of Berkeley University’s website, The Greater Good, touts the amazing benefits of touch, both conscious and unconscious forms.
According to Keitner, after many years of delving into the science of touch, even the smallest and seemingly most insignificant forms of touch, offer profound benefits. The simple act of touching releases and expresses our compassion for one another, and appears to be our primary way of experiencing and receiving compassion.
Many recent studies on the benefits of touch, including Keitner’s, have proved that touching has emotional, mental, and physical benefits. Touching has shown itself to be a fundamental part of achieving health and well-being. Touching also assists in our ability to bond, and to effectively communicate with one another.
Keitner’s groundbreaking research demonstrated through controlled experiments that human beings communicate emotions through touching, and that we are able to know intuitively what a person is feeling through touch. One experiment conducted by Keitner, placed two strangers in a room with a divider in between. One person was asked to stick his arm through an opening, and the other was asked to convey various emotions through touch. The chances of guessing accurately were proven to be only about 8%. However, remarkably, the participants in this study were able to guess emotions, such as love, gratitude, and compassion, correctly, at least 50% of the time.
Interestingly enough, Keitner’s study also showed differences in the way men and women communicate their feelings and emotions through touch, and it appears that Americans, compared to parts of the Eastern world, are touch deprived. Maybe, Americans see the act of touching as a sign of vulnerability, when in actuality, studies show that the experience of touch strengthens us and strengthens our ability to understand one another.