’Don’t touch me, please!’ The fascinating psychology behind physical contact

Scentists from Oxford and Aalto Universities in Finland recently argued that people should refrain from embracing new acquaintances. What do they suggest we do instead? Simple — just go for an ordinary handshake.

Take a look at the following infographics. They help explain all the fascinating nuances which are worth bearing in mind before touching anyone you don’t know well.

In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers surveyed men and women about where they feel comfortable being touched by different people and found that, when it comes to strangers, there’s only one place people are OK with being touched: their hands.

On the body map above, yellow and white areas indicate where people said they would feel comfortable being touched, while red to black areas show where respondents said they would be uncomfortable. The respondents were comfortable with being touched by their partners pretty much anywhere on their bodies, while male and female strangers could only touch their hands, as indicated on the very far right of the graph. The blue lines (outlining the crotch and the buttocks in many cases) indicate «taboo zones,» where absolutely no touching in that area would be comfortable. The «tabooo zone» is larger for strangers than anyone else.

The gender of the subject and the toucher played a huge part in that discomfort. The researchers found that the respondents were more comfortable being touched by women, including female strangers.

This is especially true for the male subjects. The second body map above shows that men were generally open to female acquaintances and strangers touching them on more areas of their body, whereas much of their body but their arms and chest were closed off to male strangers (the far-right column, where «stranger» is in blue).

According to the study, both male and female participants felt their relationships with women tended to be stronger, which may reflect their comfort with being touched by women, even if they’re strangers.

Ultimately, if there’s one thing we should take away from this, it’s that it’s probably best to avoid touching people you don’t know!

Source: techinsider