The Importance Of Touch

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Knapp et al. (2012: 232) point out that “tactile communication is probably the most basic and primitive form of communication.” Indeed, touch is crucial to the development of a child, as it strengthens relationships between a child and its parents; what is more, a child discovers the world largely through touch. In adult life touch also signals closeness and intimacy. A number of classifications of touching behaviors have been proposed, including a taxonomy developed by Argyle (1975), enumerating such behaviors as patting, slapping, punching, pinching, stroking, shaking, kissing, licking, holding, guiding, embracing, linking, laying on, kicking, grooming, and tickling. Morris (1977), in turn, named as many as 457 types of body contact, grouped…show more content…
(2012: 241-248) explain that touch can serve as explicit manifestations of feelings toward the touched person, but it may also convey discrete emotions. Furthermore, touch is often used when a person tries to convince the other person to do something. Indeed, studies have shown that touch may considerably affect people’s mood, perceptions, and behaviors even if it is very subtle. This influence might be unconscious both on the part of the touched person and the person who is touching. Other functions of touching behaviors include interaction management (structuring the interaction without interrupting verbal message), physiological stimulus (the touch can be either intrinsically calming, but when it is unexpected it is likely to increase anxiety), healing, and symbolism. It should be noted, however, that the exact meaning of touch is highly dependent on the context. Major (1981: 31) conducted a study on the patterns of gender differences regarding touching and came up with several main conclusions: • females are touched by other people more than men, starting in infancy, • men initiate touching women more than vice…show more content…
Hall (2011) also remarks that the fact that women are likely to touch other people is particularly visible in female-female interactions, whereas in male-male pairs touch is maximally different. Even in sport settings, in which there are fewer restrictions on touch, male-male touch is still much less frequent than between women in the same circumstances; moreover, women tend to feel more comfortable with same-gender touch than men do. This, as Hall suggests, can be attributed to homophobic attitudes, the need to control aggression, and habits deeply rooted in social
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