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Article on the Power of Touch Cites Prof. Matt Hertenstein

July 5, 2014

"When we hug or touch in any way such as kissing or handholding, it releases a hormone called oxytocin," notes a Medical Daily article on the health benefits of hugging. The piece cites comments Matt Hertenstein, associate professor of psychology and chair of the department at DePauw University, that he made to NPR in September 2010.

Sabrina Bachai writes, "Oxytocin is a hormone from the pituitary gland that plays a crucial role in intimacy and sexual reproduction. It also contributes to trust, bonding, and connecting with other people. Hugging has also been proven to fight loneliness."

Dr. Hertenstein notes, "Oxytocin is a neuropeptide, which basically promotes feelings of devotion, trust and bonding. It really lays the biological foundation and structure for connecting to other people."

Matt Hertenstein Handbook of TouchThe piece adds, "Oxytocin also helps to decrease the risk of heart disease. It also helps to reduce the amount of the stress hormone cortisol that is in our bodies. 'Having this friendly touch, just somebody simply touching our arm and holding it, buffers the physiological consequences of this stressful response,' Hertenstein said."

Read more here.

A story summarizing the September 20, 2010 NPR appearance is available here.

Matthew Hertenstein is the co-editor of The Handbook of Touch: Neuroscience, Behavioral, and Health Perspectives and authored The Tell: The Little Clues That Reveal Big Truths About Who We Are. The professor was presented with the 2014 Edwin L. Minar Jr. Scholarship Award. Established in 1981, the Minar Award is presented in recognition of exceptional scholarly achievement by a faculty member.

Dr. Hertenstein's research on communicating through touch has previously been featured on NPR and ABC, as well as in the New York Times, O, The Oprah Magazine and Psychology Today, among other media mentions. 

A study on smiling in yearbook photos and whether subjects became divorced later in life, which was conducted by Dr. Hertenstein and DePauw students, received worldwide attention in the Spring of 2009. The research was first published in the journal Motivation and Emotion. Coverage began in British media outlets, and spread to United Press International, Yahoo! and a piece which aired April 16, 2009 on NBC's Today. The research was included in the New York Times Magazine's "Ninth Annual Year in Ideas" and was cited by India Today, New Scientist and British Columbia's Province.

Visit Matt Hertenstein's Emotion Lab online by clicking here.

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