New study shows that a hug leads to better mood.

New study shows that a hug leads to better mood.

There are many variables that can improve happiness and mental health.

We know that happiness is enhanced by setting and working towards meaningful goals, optimism and hope, exercise and physical wellbeing, and (among other things) positive relationships.

But happiness is also, at least in part, a physical experience.

And happiness can also come from physical contact …

via Psychology Today by Sebastian Ocklenburg

KEY POINTS

  • A new study compared the association between hugging and mood before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Hugging was associated with a better mood, but the effect was much stronger during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • When hugs are rare, getting one has the strongest positive effect on how we feel.

A heartfelt hug can make us feel better in the worst of situations that can happen in life, but psychological research on hugging on mood is still rather rare. A new scientific study, now published in Health Communication (Packheiser et al., 2023), focused on investigating how hugging affects mood. (Disclaimer: I was one of the authors of this study.) In particular, we were interested in whether hugging had a stronger effect on mood during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was associated with a drastic decrease in social interaction compared to the time before the pandemic.

A New Study on Hugging and Mood

My co-authors tested two groups of German volunteers. The first group of 94 volunteers was tested before the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, this group experienced a normal social life and no social isolation regulation due to the pandemic. The second group of 104 volunteers was tested in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, this group had reduced social contact due to pandemic-related social isolation rules in Germany at that time.

Both groups of volunteers were tested with a research method called “Ecological Momentary Assessment” (or, in short: EMA). EMA means they were not tested in a university’s psychological laboratory but were invited to fill out a short questionnaire on their smartphone or laptop for several consecutive days. This way, we tried to get a more realistic view of everyday hugging behavior than with tests in a laboratory.

1. People hugged less during the COVID-19 pandemic than before.

Before the pandemic, people hugged an average of 6.29 times per day. During the pandemic, this number significantly decreased to 2.64 times per day. This probably reflects that people could still hug the people they lived together within the same household during the pandemic. However, they likely had much fewer chances to hug other friends or family members they would normally see at social gatherings like parties which were much less likely to happen during the pandemic…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE