Research at Carnegie Mellon University studying the impact of conflict and social support—including hugging by trusted persons—found that:
- Perceived social support reduced the risk of infection associated with experiencing conflicts
- Hugs were responsible for one-third of the protective effect of social support
- Among participants who became infected, greater perceived social support and more frequent hugs both resulted in less severe illness symptoms whether or not they experienced conflicts
Sheldon Cohen, who led the study, said that the research” suggests that being hugged by a trusted person may act as an effective means of conveying support and that increasing the frequency of hugs might be an effective means of reducing the deleterious effects of stress. The apparent protective effect of hugs may be attributable to the physical contact itself or to hugging being a behavioral indicator of support and intimacy. Either way, those who receive more hugs are somewhat more protected from infection." Hmm.