Button Menu

ABC's Diane Sawyer Talks with Prof. Matt Hertenstein About His Touch Research

ABC's Diane Sawyer Talks with Prof. Matt Hertenstein About His Touch Research

February 23, 2010

Matt Hertenstein Diane Sawyer Feb2010.jpgFebruary 23, 2010, Greencastle, Ind. — DePauw University associate professor of psychology Matt Hertenstein, whose research on communicating through touch is featured in today's New York Times, sat down for an interview with ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer to discuss his work.  Conducted over Skype, the talk is featured this afternoon at ABCNews.com.

Dr. Hertenstein says touch "increases the growth of premature babies when they're massaged at birth.  We do know that touch is really powerful in our lives and we couldn't live without it and it's basic to our species."

Dr. Hertenstein, whose research has also been featured on the Canadian Broadcasting abc logo.jpgCorporation's program, The Nature of Things and on National Public Radio, says touch can influence behavior. "Whenever people are touching us and asking for something -- whether they're asking us to sign a petition, or asking a loved one for a favor -- all of those things, when we touch, they tend to induce compliance.  But, you know, it goes way beyond getting people to do what you want them to do.  It's about relating to people."

The professor points out that Americans live in "one of the lowest contact cultures in all of the world" and are "a touch-averse culture."

matt hertenstein wrtv-apr2009.jpgSee video of the chat between Hertenstein and Sawyer by clicking here.

Research conducted by Matthew J. Hertenstein on the corrolation between between smiles in college yearbook photos and divorce later in life received worldwide attention last spring, with coverage in British media outlets, United Press International, Yahoo! and a piece which aired April 16, 2009 on NBC's Today. The research was recently included in the New York Times Magazine's "Ninth Annual Year in Ideas" and was cited by India Today.

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