Contact Comfort: Psychological Effects of Actual and Simulated Affectionate Touch

Mandy Tjew-A-Sin

People from all walks of life engage in physical contact that conveys affection, such as hugs, strokes, and gentle caresses. Those who are deprived of such experiences, spend time, money, and effort on touch services that seem to mimic or simulate affectionate touch. What is special about affectionate touch? And what benefits can we derive from it? Do simulations of affectionate touch have similar effects? These questions become more urgent now that digital and technological advancements are changing people’s access to (simulated) touch. This dissertation examines the psychological effects of affectionate touch—and by extension—what may be lost in modern societies as casual interpersonal touch continues to decline.

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