News

Bodily maps of touch and social relationships are tightly linked

Bodily maps of touch are consistent across a wide range of European cultures.

 

Bodily maps of touch are closely linked to social relationships. The brighter the colour of the body area, the more likely the person concerned is allowed to touch it. Any touching of the ‘taboo zones’ marked with black colour and blue borders is entirely forbidden.

The recent study conducted by Aalto University and the University of Oxford shows that the human body has a precisely defined touch maps that are tightly linked to social touch that is allowed in different kinds of human relationships.

The closer the person in social relationship, the larger the body area this person is allowed to touch. The bodily maps of touch were similar in all five cultures studied. Social touching thus seems to be a biologically determined and evolutionarily developed way to form social relationships. The results were recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of the United States of America.

– Our findings indicate that touching is an important means of maintaining social relationships. The bodily maps of touch were closely associated with the pleasure caused by touching. The greater the pleasure caused by touching a specific area of the body, the more selectively we allow others to touch it, says researcher Juulia Suvilehto from Aalto University.

– The results emphasise the importance of non-verbal communication in social relationships. Social relationships are important for well-being throughout peoples’ life, and their lack poses a significant psychological and somatic health risk. Our results help to understand the mechanisms related to maintaining social relationships and the associated disorders, says Professor Lauri Nummenmaa.

The study was conducted in the form of an online questionnaire in which more than 1 300 people from Finland, England, Italy, France and Russia participated. The study commenced with the mapping of the participants’ social network.  The participants were then asked to colour the areas of human body shown on a computer where different members of the social network could touch them.

The research was funded by the European Research Council (ERC), the Academy of Finland and the Emil Aaltonen Foundation.

The results were published on 26 October 2015 by the US National Academy of Sciences in its    Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America (PNAS).

Read the article on the web. (pnas.org)

You may participate in the research. (becs.aalto.fi)

More information:
Researcher Juulia Suvilehto                                                               
Aalto University
tel. +358 50 570 4861                                                               
[email protected]                              

Professor Lauri Nummenmaa
Aalto University and Turku PET Centre
tel. +358 50 431 9931
[email protected]     

Previous research:

A Finnish study reveals the bodily maps of emotions
The research results were published on 30 December 2013 in Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America (PNAS)

  • Published:
  • Updated:
Share
URL copied!

Related news

aalto university comet interceptor image: George Brydon, MSSL/UCL
Press releases, Research & Art Published:

The ESA Comet Interceptor enters mission analysis phase with significant Finnish contributions

A new Comet Interceptor mission was selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) for the early mission analysis phase. Comet Interceptor, planned to be launched in 2028, will study an entirely new comet which is flying through our Solar System for the first time.
Sotavangit
Press releases Published:

WarSampo publishes new Linked Open Data on the over 4,000 Finnish prisoners of war in Soviet Union

The Prisoners of War web application is based on archival material from Finland and Russia. The data is a part of the WarSampo application, which has been used by over half a million Finns to date.
Starting Up Pic: Aalto University
Press releases, Studies, University Published:

Aalto University launches free-for-all online entrepreneurship course 'to make sure no great idea goes unpursued'

Starting Up is co-created by students and the European startup community and is a new contribution to open education by the country that brought Elements of AI to the world
Äitiä ahdistanut raskaus voi näkyä pikkuvauvan tunnereaktioissa
Press releases Published:

Expectant mothers’ pregnancy-related anxiety may alter how infant brains respond to sad speech

Study shows correlation between mothers’ self-reported pregnancy-related anxiety, and babies’ blood flow to brain areas responsible for emotional responses when listening to sad speech