Have a big presentation or difficult conversation on your to-do list today? A big hug from your boo could help. New research finds hugs can make a big difference for women facing stress, but for men? Not so much.
The study looks at how people respond to stress after getting a hug from a romantic partner and it shows it has a positive impact on women. Ladies who got to hug their S.O. had a decrease in the production of cortisol - a stress hormone - compared to those who didn’t get a loving squeeze. Senior study author Julian Packheiser explains that cortisol can negatively impact memory recall, which could make the stressful task ahead even more difficult.
But when you share affection with someone you love, a neurotransmitter called oxytocin - the so-called “love hormone” - is released and it reduces cortisol levels. That touch response, along with social support, helps women better cope with stressful situations, but the fellas seem to be out of luck. So why don’t men get that same perk from hugs? Researchers aren’t quite sure, but offer a few suggestions:
- It could be a social factor, where men in the study might not have felt as good about the hugs since they can be considered awkward or unusual for men.
- It could also be related to the difference in touch receptors in men’s and women’s biology.
- “Just because we did not find the effect in men, (doesn't mean) that it is not there," Packheiser wrote in an email. "The effect could simply be smaller and was just undetected."