The influence of duration, arm crossing style, gender, and emotional closeness on hugging behaviour

Dueren, Anna L.; Vafeiadou, Aikaterini; Edgar, Christopher and Banissy, Michael J.. 2021. The influence of duration, arm crossing style, gender, and emotional closeness on hugging behaviour. Acta Psychologica, 221, 103441. ISSN 0001-6918 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Hugging is one of the most common types of affective touch encountered in everyday life. However, little is known about the factors that influence hugging evaluation and behaviour. Here, we aimed to assess how different hugs would be evaluated and whether they can affect mood. Furthermore, we aimed to investigate what kind of arm crossing is common in a naturalistic setting and whether arm crossing style could be predicted from gender, emotional closeness, and the height difference of huggers. We conducted two studies addressing these questions. In study 1, participants hugged a confederate for 1 second (s), 5 s or 10 s with two different arm crossing styles and reported how pleasant, arousing and under control the touch felt. Additionally, participants were asked about their mood (“self-ratings”) immediately after, 3 minutes (min) after and 6 min after each hug. In study 2, participants were approached on campus and asked to share a hug, with arm crossing style being the dependent variable. The height difference, gender and self-rated emotional closeness to the hug partner were recorded as possible predictors for arm crossing style. Results from study 1 indicate that duration matters more than arm crossing style for hug pleasure, arousal, and control, with 1 s hugs being rated as least pleasant and under control than 5 s and 10 s hugs. Accordingly, 1 s hugs also resulted in lower pleasure self-ratings immediately post hug than 5 s and 10 s hugs. Arousal self-ratings were higher immediately post hug than several minutes after a hug. In study 2, gender was linked to arm crossing style, with male-male hug dyads exhibiting a different hugging style from female-female dyads. These findings are discussed in relation to previous hug research and gender differences in touch behaviour.

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Identification Number (DOI):


Pleasant touch, Affective touch, Hug, Embrace, Affect

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26 March 2021Submitted
22 October 2021Accepted
2 November 2021Published Online
November 2021Published

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Date Deposited:

04 Jan 2024 11:24

Last Modified:

04 Jan 2024 11:24

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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