Added: Lacandice Moorhead - Date: 16.09.2021 14:02 - Views: 33166 - Clicks: 9252
Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Interpersonal touch is a fundamental component of social interactions because it can mitigate physical and psychological distress. To reproduce the psychological and physiological effects associated with interpersonal touch, interest is growing in introducing tactile sensations to communication devices.
However, it remains unknown whether physical contact with such devices can produce objectively measurable endocrine effects like real interpersonal touching can. We directly tested this possibility by examining changes in stress hormone cortisol before and after a conversation with a huggable communication device.
Participants had minute conversations with a remote partner that was carried out either with a huggable human-shaped device or with a mobile phone. Our experiment revealed ificant reduction in the cortisol levels for those who had conversations with the huggable device. Our approach to evaluate communication media with biological markers suggests new de directions for interpersonal communication media to improve social support systems in modern highly networked societies.
Lovers cuddle and hug. A nurse strokes a patient's shoulder to reduce pain. An exhausted office worker gets a massage from a therapist for stress relief. In human interactions, interpersonal touch plays an important role in governing our emotional and physical well-being 1 , 2. Its therapeutic effects on physical and mental stress have been supported by a large body of evidence 2 , 9. Early studies showed the psychological effects of interpersonal touch e. For example, such positive physical contact as hugging and massages from partners reduces cortisol, increases oxytocin, and lowers systolic blood pressure in stressful situations 11 , 12 , 13 , Such effects are also observed in physical contact from strangers or animals, as shown by studies on the psychological effects of massages 15 , 16 and animal-assisted therapy In technology-mediated remote communications, tactile stimulation is critically absent despite the recent expansion of online communication tools that are typically limited to text-based messaging such as s and instant messengers or video-based communication like Skype and Google Hangout.
In recognizing this limitation of current communication tools, researchers on communication media have attempted to introduce physical contact to communication devices to achieve the psychological effects brought by interpersonal touch 18 and to facilitate social interactions with robots that assist people in everyday life 19 , 20 , For example, several state-of-the-art communication devices have been deed to add physical contact to the Internet and online long-distance communication between couples, friends, and family members.
Another haptic stimulation system called TapTap can record and play human touches, allowing the broadcasting of interpersonal touch to distant people Such wearable devices offer the possibility of virtual tactile stimulation with vibration, and other studies created the sense of physical contact by developing robotic avatars that represent distant people 23 , 24 or combining wearable interfaces as an effector and a physical object as an input device Although these devices have been deed on the premise that the touches mediated by them would produce similar effects as those expected in real human-to-human interactions, there have been no direct empirical tests of their physiological impact.
The critical question remains unanswered: do tactile communication devices induce physiological and behavioral responses like real interpersonal touches 1 , 18? The psychological and behavioral effects of physical contact with artificial systems have been shown for touches from interactive robots.
A series of field studies with animal-like robots showed that long-term interactions with robots have positive psychological effects on elderly people 26 , 27 , One study reported that touches initiated by a robot motivate humans in terms of the of working actions and the amount of working time for a monotonous task Even though these studies indicate that physical touching by robots has psychological and behavioral effects, it remains unclear whether the artificial realization of interpersonal touch can produce physiological responses as observed in real human interactions.
To address this issue, we investigated whether endocrine changes are observed following a brief conversation through a huggable communication device. This approach allowed us to quantitatively evaluate the physiological effects of the mediated touch without relying on subjective reports of affective states.
We hypothesized that communication with a remote person by giving a hug to a physical device would be sufficient to influence the human neuroendocrine system. To test this idea, we examined the changes in cortisol hormone, which is a reliable biomarker of psychological illnesses 30 , before and after participants engaged in a human-human conversation mediated by a huggable communication device. We focused on the cortisol hormone because stress relief is one of the most critical issues in providing social support to facilitate recovery from many types of mental and physical problems 9.
Considering the potential applications of communication media for social support, the impact of the media on stress relief is highly relevant. In a control group, participants went through the same procedure, but used a mobile phone instead of Hugvie Phone group Figure 1. To assess the neuroendocrine responses to the social interaction with the communication media, we measured cortisol levels before and after the conversation session.
We collected the cortisol levels both from the blood and salivary samples since they can be dissociated due to differences in their regulatory mechanisms We predicted that physical contact with the huggable device would reduce the cortisol levels at a greater rate than the control group in which participants had conversations on a mobile phone without physical contact. Finally, we also evaluated the effects of physical contact on subjective psychological states with a post-session questionnaire that assessed positive affect, negative affect, and calmness.
The consistencies between the saliva and blood cortisol levels corroborate the reliability of our measures. These subjective reports of affective states were not correlated with the cortisol levels after the conversation. We found that hugging a huggable communication medium reduces the cortisol levels in both saliva and blood.
These , which support our hypothesis that physical contact with communication media can produce an effect even at the endocrine level, suggest that physical contact with such a medium might be effectively used for mental stress relief. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that demonstrated an endocrine effect from physical contact with a communication medium. We also found a reduction of the cortisol levels both in the blood and saliva samples and a positive correlation between the changes in salivary and blood cortisol.
This indicates that we can use salivary cortisol, which can be more easily handled than blood cortisol, to evaluate the effect of physical touch with communication media. We expect salivary cortisol to be a promising new measure to assess the effects of physical touch with communication media that have been evaluated with behavioral or psychological measures. Our provide two important implications. First, they suggest that communication media do not need to actively stimulate a person's skin to reduce cortisol levels.
In research of interpersonal touching, active touching by others, such as stroking arms and massaging, was primarily used as tactile stimuli 10 , 11 , Other studies used a combination of several types of inactive touch, such as holding hands and hugging, and other factors e. Little investigation has been conducted on the endocrine effect of single inactive touch except a study that reported the changes in the heart rate and blood pressure during gentle touches of the wrist Our demonstrate that a minute inactive touch with an inanimate object reduces the level of stress hormone.
Second, our indicate that communication media can be used as research tools to investigate the positive effects of physical touch independently of the touching situation and the toucher. The effects of interpersonal touch on physiological responses are affected by how people are touched and by whom For example, while positive physiological changes are induced by a hug with a friend or family member, such changes do not occur for a hug with a stranger of the opposite sex because it could be taken as sexually offensive.
By contrast, our present study shows that hugging an inanimate object reduces cortisol even during conversations with a stranger of the opposite sex. This suggests that communication media allow us to separate the actual effects of physical contact from the effect of intimate relationships in interpersonal touching, which could induce multiple effects. In contrast to the cortisol , the participant's subjective affect showed no ificant difference between both groups.
This suggests that the intervention with the huggable device did not induce subjectively perceptible psychological changes despite the objectively measurable changes in the endocrinological states. Interestingly, similar have been reported in a study on real interpersonal touches. Ditzen et al. However, despite the physiological differences in the cortisol levels, they found no ificant differences in the self-reports of psychological states.
These suggest that subjective reports of mental states may not be as sensitive as physiological measures such as cortisol levels, because we have only limited ability to introspect our own physiological states The ability to reduce cortisol levels seems suitable for improving the quality of intimate social interaction in which trust and bonding are crucial. For example, remote counseling services are widely used to improve patients' psychological states and mental health.
The quality of communication with therapists may be enhanced by huggable devices, since they are typically conducted with telephones, internet, or videophones Which aspects of hugging the cushion-like, huggable device are critical for cortisol reduction? We believe at least two elements warrant further consideration: the posture while using the device and the quality of the tactile sensation from it.
First, the pose itself can cause psychological, physiological, and behavioral changes. For example, Carney et al. The hugging posture itself may have influenced the cortisol levels. Future studies should explore the influences of other postures. Second, the tactile quality of Hugvie is another element that may have caused the physiological changes. Recent neuroscience studies have shown that pleasant and light tactile stimulation is differentiated from rapid and intense tactile stimulation in neural transmissions 37 , 38 , 39 ; the former is transmitted by unmyelinated tactile fibers C-tactile fibers , and the latter by myelinated nerve fibers.
Microneurography studies have suggested the possibility that C-tactile fibers in humans innervate the hairy skin but not glabrous skin Their innervation density is still not assessed in detail due to the limitation of current techniques. But, recent studies in mice supported this possibility, reporting that a rare subset of unmyelinated fibers, which have characteristics similar to human C-tactile fibers, exclusively innervates hairy skin They also showed that massage-like stroking activates these fibers and direct activation of those neurons produces positive behavioral valence This suggests a potential role of human C-tactile fibers in our positive affective state.
Human C-tactile fibers may mediate the link between pleasant light touching and neuroendocrinological responses. The gentle tactile stimulation from Hugvie's soft surface may effectively stimulate the C-tactile fibers in our skin of the face and arms and mimic social touching.
This idea remains a speculation; however, if stimulation of the C-tactile fiber turns out to be critical, the device's effect on stress reduction could be maximized by targeting the hairy skin. We can also infer from the characteristics of the human tactile system that a vibratory tactile stimulus, which is commonly used in tactile communication devices, would not be effective because the vibrations in such devices do not activate C-tactile fibers These physiological perspectives suggest possible de directions for tactile communication devices.
Interpersonal touch affects not only cortisol but also other hormones. Recent studies found that a minute massage elevates oxytocin levels and induces altruistic behavior 15 , Oxytocin is a hormone that facilitates social bonding and trusting behavior Studies about interpersonal touches between couples show that oxytocin increases and cortisol decreases 12 , We speculate that physical contact with the huggable device may increase the oxytocin levels during conversations.
In fact, one study reported that touching a teddy bear eases feelings of social exclusion and increases prosocial behavior, suggesting a possible increase in the oxytocin level from physical contact Therefore, it is interesting to investigate whether physical contact with huggable devices can also increase oxytocin levels and prosocial behavior.
Our current study has several limitations. First, our experiment focused on a particular demographic of participants and a conversation partner. We recruited only female participants, and our conversation situation was between older female participants and a younger male confederate to minimize the heterogeneity in the possible social relationships. However, gender, age, and cultural background could all influence the endocrine changes, as reported in interpersonal touching 1. Our need to be tested and replicated in other social settings.
Second, as mentioned above, since the huggable device's texture and shape might have contributed to the hormonal changes, any generalizations should be made with caution until our findings are replicated in different conditions. In summary, our study demonstrated that physical contact with a simple, inanimate object decreases the cortisol levels in both saliva and blood.
Our findings increase understanding of the underlying mechanism of interpersonal touch and will inspire de directions of future communication devices to improve human well-being. To minimize the effects of menstrual hormonal cycles and gender differences in hormonal systems, we recruited eighteen relatively old, healthy female volunteers mean age Subjects on medication, or suffering from acute or chronic hormonal dysregulations, psychosomatic, or psychiatric diseases were excluded.
Before the study, participants were informed of the following prohibitions: 1 no alcohol or cigarettes one day before the study; 2 no exercise, eating, or drinking one hour before the study. Participants were randomly separated into two groups: the Hug group mean age They did not know to which group they would be ased until the devices were given. All participants gave written informed consent prior to participation. We selected a conversation partner from candidates who applied for an experiment assistant job.
In the job interviews, they exhibited their skills in a mock minute conversation that followed the same procedure as in the main experiment. After a careful selection process, we chose a year-old male university student as a competent conversation partner. He was not aware of the purpose of the experiment throughout the study. He also gave informed consent and was covered under the ethical approval described above. Its de was inspired by observation of field studies with Telenoid, a human-like robotic medium with minimal human appearance characteristics Studies reported that physical contact with a Telenoid, especially hugging it, is a primary form of interaction and has strong psychological impact on a wide age range of users.
Based on this finding, Hugvie was deed as a communication device that focuses on the hugging experience. It is a soft cushion filled with polystyrene microbe and covered with spandex fiber, which is often used for microbead pillows. Since the phone is in the pocket, people can call and talk while hugging the Hugvie, increasing the feeling they are actually hugging a distant conversation partner. A Hugvie does not have any actuators inside it.
Therefore we can investigate the effect of inactive touches from it. This speaker was used in the Phone group as the communication device. The experimental room included two adjacent sub-rooms that were separated by 1. During the conversations and the questionnaires, participants were left alone in the conversation room and an experimenter waited in the waiting room.
The conversation partner waited in an operation room located on another floor. The operation and conversation rooms were wired with RCA cables to maintain stable audio communication.Cuddle talk relieve stress mature woman looking
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