Hugging someone you know has been linked to positive health effects.
Who doesn't like a hug? Now there's scientific data to validate its health benefits.
Researchers at the Medical University of Vienna have discovered that hugging can reduce stress, improve memory and well-being and help to lower blood pressure.
There is a twist though – the health benefits can only be obtained while hugging someone you know very well. Embracing strangers has a completely opposite effect.
Evidently the health advantages are caused by the release of something called oxytocin, which is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland. It is also referred to as ‘the love hormone’ because it’s known to increase bonding in partner and parent/ child relationships.
Oxytocin is only secreted when the two huggers trust one another and desire to embrace. Unwanted hugs from strangers or anyone else causes people to release the stress hormone known as cortisol.
Tickling has a similar effect. Charles Darwin saw it as a social connector, a way for humans to bond with each other - for example a mother and her child, siblings or friends.
If you get tickled by a stranger, your reaction is likely to be that of dismay.