Hugging Someone Actually Makes You Happier and Healthier, Study Says
A hug a day keeps the doctor away!
Not to impugn the important work social psychologists do, but we could probably have guessed that hugs are good. Still, it’s nice to have the data to back it up—and to see that hugs are especially good for healing relationship problems.
A new study from researchers at Carnegie Mellon wanted to see whether hugs can have an impact on a sense of well-being and better functioning relationships. To do that, they found 404 adults and interviewed them every day for two weeks to get a sense of their relationship conflicts, happiness, and whether they’d received a hug that day.
What they found is that getting a hug did, in fact, have a significant effect on mood: it made for a smaller decrease in positive feelings, and a smaller increase in negative feelings, meaning that it acted as a sort of arm-based buffer against bad vibes. (“Bad vibes,” as a phrase, does not appear in this study, which was published in 2018. Scientists don’t talk about vibes very much.)
Interestingly, the benefits of hugs didn’t vary based on the situation of the person. Whether the person being interviewed was single, married, in a relationship, identified as male or female, of any age and race—hugs seemed to help. Previous work showed that hugs from partners decreased blood pressure and increased oxytocin activity in premenopausal women; both of those factors are commonly associated with feelings of well-being and happiness.
So, give hugs! They’re good for you.