Hugs Really Do Help After An Argument, Science Says So

Leslie Hanson
October 5, 2018

"Hugs are transformational", he added, "and like music, they're universal".

The researchers interviewed 404 adult men and women every night for 14 consecutive days about their conflicts, hug receipt, and positive and negative moods.

The study by researchers based in Pittsburg, Pa., found that hugging made people feel better on days when they experienced some kind of interpersonal conflict. All the results were published in a specialized scientific journal PLOS ONE. Each person also went through a physical exam and filled out a questionnaire about their health and social network at the beginning of the study.

"Receiving a hug on the day of conflict was associated with improved concurrent negative and positive affect and improved next day negative affect compared to days when conflict occurred but no hug was received", said Dr Murphy.

Oregon Health and Science University offers tips on resolving conflict. Also like contact with relatives or friends were able to raise the mood and on the day following conflict.


Hugging it out can help erase the negative emotions from your day. While factors like age and gender did not show much influence on the effects of a hug, women reported a higher number of hugs than men overall. This may be because people revert to counterproductive behaviors - like giving unsolicited advice, or jumping straight into problem-solving - when they try to support their loved ones, unintentionally making them feel incompetent or criticized, Murphy says. The more often people hugged, the less likely they were to get sick, even among individuals who frequently had tense interactions.

Hug it out! A new study suggests that just reaching out and touching someone - consensually, of course - can reduce bad feelings associated with the typical ups and downs of our social interactions.

While most prior research has focused on the role of touch in romantic relationships, Murphy and his team concentrated on consensual - not sexual - hugging.

More implicit shows of support, such as physical touch or doing someone a favor, might be better because they "make people feel like they're cared about, that they have someone who's there for them, but that doesn't make any judgments", Murphy says.

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