Physical Contact Can Communicate More Emotion

Posted By on October 4th

Photographer makelessnoise

Researchers have begun to learn that physical contact can communicate even more emotion than nonverbal contact. 

We’ve long known the benefits and detriments of nonverbal signals that communicate our emotions. Now we are learning that physical contact can almost immediately change how people think and behave. 

Studies have shown: 

  • Students who receive a supportive touch on the back or arm from a teacher are nearly twice as likely to volunteer in a class
  • Patients who receive a sympathetic touch from a doctor have the impression that the visit lasted twice as long as it did
  • Sports teams tend to perform more successfully when the players make physical contact with each other more frequently (i.e. high-fives, chest bumps, and hugs)

It is believed that physical contact reduces stress by releasing oxytocin (a hormone that helps create a sensation of trust) and by reducing levels of the hormone cortisol. 

In periods of conflict, how can a supportive or sympathetic touch communicate your emotions in a way that changes the conflict?

About the author

Keith Grossman helps individuals and businesses negotiate and manage conflict more comfortably. Keith is a Collaborative Attorney, a Family and Circuit Civil mediator certified by the Supreme Court of Florida, an Arbitrator qualified by the Florida Supreme Court, and an educator. Keith frequently lectures and facilitates training programs, works with individuals one-on-one, and writes articles on conflict management and negotiation topics. His e-workbooks, “What Is A Peace Chest?” and “How Do You Build A Peace Chest?“ are now available on Kindle.


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