Monthly Article Archives: January 2011

The Impact of TouchRobert Brooks, Ph.D.

I recently read an article that appeared in The New York Times titled “Evidence that Little Touches Do Mean So Much.” The article, written by Benedict Carey, noted that in recent years psychologists have turned increasing attention to studying physical contact as a powerful form of communication. Carey writes, “Momentary touches, psychologists say- whether an exuberant high five, a warm hand on the shoulder, or a creepy touch to the arm- can communicate an even wider range of emotion than gestures or expressions, and sometimes do so more quickly and accurately than words.” Carey continues, “The evidence that such messages can lead to clear, almost immediate changes in how people think and behave is accumulating fast. Students who received a supportive touch on the back or arm from a teacher were nearly twice as likely to volunteer in class than those who did not, studies have found. A sympathetic touch from a doctor leaves people with the impression that the visit lasted twice as long, compared with estimates from people who were untouched.” In analyzing this research one might raise a question rooted in the chicken and the egg dilemma. Are teachers or doctors more likely to touch students or

Article Archive