Evaluations of affective stimuli modulated by another person's presence and affiliative touch.

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Wingenbach T.S.H.
Ribeiro B.
Nakao C.
Gruber J.
Boggio P.S.
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© 2019 American Psychological AssociationAffiliative touch carries affective meaning and affects the receiver. Although research demonstrates that receiving touch modulates the neural processing of emotions, its effects on evaluations of affective stimuli remain unexplored. The current research examined the effects of affiliative touch on the evaluation of affective images across 3 studies and aimed to disentangle the effect of another person's mere presence from the addition of affiliative touch. Participants thus underwent experimental conditions of social manipulation (presence, alone) and touch manipulations (receiving, self-providing, providing to experimenter) while viewing affective images (negative, neutral, and positive valence) and evaluated their valence. Study 1 included hand-squeezing (N = 39), and Study 2 included forearm-stroking (N = 40) in a within-subjects design. Study 3 included hand-squeezing (N = 109) in a between-subjects design. Across both studies, the results suggested that the receiving condition decreased the negativity of negative images, and the providing condition reduced the positivity of positive images. Furthermore, the other presence condition increased the positivity of positive images compared with the alone condition in Study 1 and to the receiving condition in Study 2. Hand-squeezing and forearm-stroking had differential effects on affective image evaluations depending on the image valence and who provided the touch. Overall, receiving touch seems to attenuate negative evaluations in negative contexts and the presence of others amplifies positive evaluations in positive situations. Discussion highlights the importance of affiliative touch within social interactions. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)
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Adult , Emotions , Female , Humans , Male , Physical Stimulation , Touch Perception , Young Adult
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