Women who embraced their partner to have lower stress-induced cortisol response
In some settings, social touch may buffer against stress. Previous research has shown that massages, embraces combined with hand-holding, and embraces combined with affectionate communication can all reduce signs of stress in women. However, few studies have investigated these effects in men, nor have they explored the effects of brief embraces on their own.
Women were instructed to embrace their romantic partner prior to undergoing a stressful experience had a lower biological stress response as indicated by levels of the stress hormone cortisol in saliva compared to women who did not embrace their partner. This effect was not seen for men. Researchers presented these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.
An analysis of 76 people who were in romantic relationships was done. All participants underwent a stress-inducing test in which they were asked to keep one hand in an ice-water bath for three minutes while being observed and maintaining eye contact with a camera. Prior to this test, half of the couples were instructed to embrace, and the others did not embrace. The researchers measured various indicators of stress, including participants' salivary cortisol levels, before and after the experiment. The results revealed that women who embraced their partner had a lower cortisol response to the stress test than women who did not embrace their partner.
Other measures of stress including changes in blood pressure and emotional state did not show any associations with partner embrace. These results suggest that a brief embrace with a romantic partner might subsequently reduce the cortisol response for women facing stressful social situations, such as school exams, job interviews, or even presentations.
Dr. Nandita Mohan
BDS, MDS( Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry)