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Touch as an interpersonal emotion regulation process in couples' daily lives: the mediating role of psychological intimacy


Debrot, Anik; Schoebi, Dominik; Perrez, Meinrad; Horn, Andrea B (2013). Touch as an interpersonal emotion regulation process in couples' daily lives: the mediating role of psychological intimacy. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39(10):1373-1385.

Abstract

Interpersonal touch seems to promote physical health through its effects on stress-sensitive parameters. However, less is known about the psychological effects of touch. The present study investigates associations between touch and romantic partners' affective state in daily life. We hypothesized that this association is established by promoting the recipient's experience of intimacy. Both partners of 102 dating couples completed an electronic diary 4 times a day during 1 week. Multilevel analyses revealed that touch was associated with enhanced affect in the partner. This association was mediated by the partner's psychological intimacy. Touch was also associated with intimacy and positive affect in the actor. Finally, participants who were touched more often during the diary study week reported better psychological well-being 6 months later. This study provides evidence that intimate partners benefit from touch on a psychological level, conveying a sense of strengthened bonds between them that enhances affect and well-being.

Abstract

Interpersonal touch seems to promote physical health through its effects on stress-sensitive parameters. However, less is known about the psychological effects of touch. The present study investigates associations between touch and romantic partners' affective state in daily life. We hypothesized that this association is established by promoting the recipient's experience of intimacy. Both partners of 102 dating couples completed an electronic diary 4 times a day during 1 week. Multilevel analyses revealed that touch was associated with enhanced affect in the partner. This association was mediated by the partner's psychological intimacy. Touch was also associated with intimacy and positive affect in the actor. Finally, participants who were touched more often during the diary study week reported better psychological well-being 6 months later. This study provides evidence that intimate partners benefit from touch on a psychological level, conveying a sense of strengthened bonds between them that enhances affect and well-being.

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15 citations in Web of Science®
19 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2013
Deposited On:03 Oct 2013 13:46
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:00
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN:0146-1672
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167213497592
PubMed ID:23885034

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