Hugs protect our mood from the negative effects of interpersonal conflict

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Basically, hugs made people feel better.

The study also found that holding hands too improves a persons's mood after a conflict, and the effect lasts into the next day.

The study by researchers based in Pittsburg, Pa., found that hugging made people feel better on days when they experienced some kind of interpersonal conflict.

Previously, psychologists have proposed that interpersonal touch may protect people from the consequences of psychological stress, particularly stress from interpersonal conflict.

However, the generalizability of past research on this topic is limited because studies have largely focused on the role of touch in romantic relationships.

Severe or repeated distress from arguments can build up feelings of anxiety, paranoia, loneliness, and depression.

"The lack of specificity regarding from whom individuals received hugs also restricted our ability to identify whether hugs from specific types of social partners were more effective than those from others", Murphy wrote. Receiving a hug on the day of conflict was concurrently associated with a smaller decrease in positive emotions and a smaller increase in negative emotions.

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.

Receiving a warm hug may help buffer us against the negative mood alterations associated with interpersonal conflict.

Murphy and Stratyner agreed that people can likely tell the difference between a heartfelt hug and a more perfunctory one.

The results are correlational, so more research is required in order to investigate the link between hugs and improved psychological function, and to uncover a possible mechanism.

In the Carnegie Mellon study, both men and women benefited equally from hugs. Large sample findings suggests that hugs may be a simple, free, and effective method of providing support to those experiencing interpersonal distress.

Dr Murphy added: 'This research is in its early stages.

Hug it out! A new study suggests that just reaching out and touching someone - consensually, of course - can reduce bad feelings associated with the typical ups and downs of our social interactions.

'However, our study suggests that consensual hugs might be useful for showing support to somebody enduring relationship conflict'.

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