"Are you a “hugger?” Did you come from a family of “huggers?” Growing up I hugged my pets (the ones that were huggable – it’s a tad difficult to hug a snail or a box turtle or even a parakeet!) I sometimes hugged close friends (but not always as hugging was never a measure of how much I cared about and valued a specific individual). It’s commonly understood that ongoing stressors such as conflict with others can reduce immune system function and increase the risk of infection. And the brain and immune system have their hands in each other's pockets, so to speak. Recently research by scientists at Carnegie Mellon University looked at conflict and social support—including hugging by trusted persons—and its association with risk of infection and with severity of illness symptoms.