Individual Differences in the Perception of Common Types of Affective Touch

Düren, Anna Lena. 2022. Individual Differences in the Perception of Common Types of Affective Touch. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

No full text available
[img] Text (Individual Differences in the Perception of Common Types of Affective Touch)
PSY_thesis_ DurenA_2022 .pdf - Accepted Version
Permissions: Administrator Access Only until 31 August 2025.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (2MB)

Abstract or Description

In the past decades, research on affective touch has gained increased interest. With the onset of systematic research on the topic, the types of affective touch researched within psychology have become more homogeneous, focusing on gentle stroking. However, qualitative, and observational evidence suggests that affective touch in everyday life is more diverse than that. This thesis aimed to investigate attitudes towards and experiences of common types of affective touch in adults. To this end, cognitions surrounding hugs and affective touch in relationship to sleep were examined, focusing on individual differences contributing to differences in perception of these types of affective touch.

In part one, the meaning of hugging is explored through secondary data analysis, showing that hugging can be a meaningful stimulus most likely to be remembered because it conveys comfort. Attitudes about hugs in formal settings are investigated in the same dataset, showing individual differences in attitudes towards hugs between people and settings. Additionally, different ways of hugging are examined, suggesting that some hugs are more pleasant and typical than others.

In part two, the relationship between touch and sleep is explored. A literature review indicates that prior research focused primarily on the influence of sexual touch on sleep. Nonsexual affective touch occurs before sleep but has gained little empirical attention. Secondary data analysis shows that affective touch before sleep is judged to improve sleep, but such a relationship is not evident when predicting sleep outcomes from daily touch experiences.

Together, these findings shed light on two prevalent but under-researched affective touch experiences. The findings have practical implications for the use of hugs in professional settings and might inform advice about social sleeping patterns. On a theoretical level, the findings support arguments that touching behaviour interacts with gender and potentially with gender-dependent power relations.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


touch, hug, ct-afferent, individual differences, attachment style

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



31 August 2022

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

14 Sep 2022 12:58

Last Modified:

18 Oct 2022 12:33


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)