Fri, 18 Sep 2020

Today is the National Hug Day!
21 Jan 2020, 18:11 GMT+10

NationalHugDay was created by Reverend Kevin Zaborney in Caro, Michigan in 1986 as an antidote to the reverend's perception that many American were afraid to display affection in public. He created the date on which this holiday is celebrated, January 21st because he felt this was a time of the year when the spirit of people were at the lowest due to it falling between Christmas and Valentine's Day.1.The averagehuglasts 3.17 secondsA study lead by Emese Nagy from the University of Dundee analyzed 188 spontaneous hugs between athletes and their coaches, competitors, and supporters during the 2008 Summer Olympics Games (Nagy, 2011). The results The averagehuglasted 3.17 seconds and was neither influenced by thegendercombination of thehuggingpair, nor by the nationality of the two huggers.2. Humans have hugged each other since thousands of yearsNo one knows exactly when the firsthugoccurred between two human beings, but we do know that hugs have been in the human behavioral repertoire for at least several thousand years. In 2007, ateamof archeologist discovered the so-called "Lovers of Valdaro" in a Neolithic Tomb near Mantua in Italy (Stewart, 2007). The lovers are a pair of human skeletons that have been buried holding each other in a tight embrace (see Figure 1). They have been determined to be approximately 6000 years old, so we know for sure that people already hugged each other in Neolithic times.3.Most peoplehugto the right - but our emotions affect how wehugWhen wehug, we wrap our arms around another person. Typically, we lead thehugwith one arm. A German study in which I was a co-author analyzed whether people preferentiallyhugwith their left or their right arm (Packheiser et al., 2018). In this study, we observedhuggingcouples at the arrivals or departure lounges at international airports and also analyzed videos of people who blindfold themselves and let strangershugthem on the street. We found that overall, most people hugged to the right. In the emotionally neutral situation in which strangers hugged a blindfolded person, 92% hugged to the right. However, in more emotional situations, that is, when people hugged theirfriendsor partners at the airport, only about 81% of people hugged to the right. Since the left hemisphere of the brain controls the right half of the body and vice versa, we believe that this leftward shift inhuggingis due to a greater involvement of the right hemisphere of the brain for emotional processes duringhuggingin these situations.4.Huggingimproves how we deal with stressPublic speakingisstressfulfor almost anyone - buthuggingbefore entering the stage can make it less stressful. A study from the University of North Carolina investigated howhuggingbefore a stressful event reduced the negative effects of stress on the body (Grewen et al., 2003). Two groups of couples were tested: In one group, partners were given 10 minutes time to hold hands and watch a romantic movie, followed by a 20 second hug. In the other group, the partners just rested quietly and did not touch each other. Afterwards one partner had to participate in a very stressful public speaking task and their blood pressure and heart rate were measured while they spoke. The results Individuals who had received ahugfrom their partner prior to being stressed showed significantly lower blood pressure and heart rate than those who did not touch their partners before the public speaking task. Thus,huggingleads to lower reactivity to stressful events and may benefit cardiovascularhealth.5. Humans are not the only ones that embrace each otherWhile humanshuga lot compared to most animals, we are certainly not the only species to usehuggingto communicate social or emotional meaning. A study by researchers from Florida International University investigatedhuggingin the Colombian spider monkey, a highly social monkey species that lives in forests in Colombia and Panama (Boeving et al., 2017). They found that unlike humans, the monkey had not one but two distinct types of embraces: embraces and face-embraces. An embrace resembled a typicalhugin humans in that the monkeys wrapped their arms around each other and placed their heads on the shoulder of the other monkey. A face-embrace, on the other hand, did not involve the arms. Here, the monkeys basically hugged with their faces only by rubbing their cheeks against each other. Like humans, the monkeys showed a preferred side forhugging: For embraces, 80% preferred tohugto the left

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