the power of touch

A study of NBA players found the best teams touch each other a lot--while the losing teams seldom touched each other. Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley looked at what happened between teammates during the 2009 season and found the most touch-prone were the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, two of the league’s top teams at the time. The mediocre Sacramento Kings and Charlotte Bobcats were at the bottom of touch list. The same held true for individual players. The study took into account the possibility of teams high-fiving just because they were winning and adjusted accordingly. Even when the high expectations surrounding the more talented teams were taken into account, the correlation persisted.

A warm touch reduces stress by releasing hormones that promote a sensation of trust. This can free up the part of the brain that regulates emotion to engage in problem solving.

The investigators also tested couples, finding with more touching came greater satisfaction in the relationship. Previous research has suggested students receiving a teacher's supportive touch on the arm or back or arm were much more likely to volunteer in class and a sympathetic touch from a doctor gives patients feeling that a visit lasted twice as long as it actually did.

Stephen Goforth