Physical contact helps develop self-perception
The self-esteem is not a feeling that is only born within oneself and does not have a purely psychological dimension: a group of British researchers have discovered how much physical contact can also be decisive in this respect. In particular, the results of their research, published in Frontiers in Psychology, demonstrated the importance of caresses in developing a sense of body and creating a good self-image.
The studies involved 52 healthy adults and analysed the effect of 2 different types of touch: slow, loving caresses or quick, neutral touch. In order for the researchers to assess the sensations experienced during the experiments, all participants had to fill out specific questionnaires. The results revealed that caresses are one of the signals that help control self-perception, teaching the brain to construct a mental image of one’s own body, which ultimately has the effect of developing a coherent self-image.
As Laura Crucianelli, first author of the research, explains, “given that an affectionate touch is what one typically receives from a loved one, these results further highlight how close relationships involve behaviour that can play a crucial role in the development of self-perception. The researchers now intend to study whether the absence of social cues, such as a parent’s affectionate caresses of their child, can cause difficulties in the construction of the child’s self-concept and the development of self-esteem, which have previously been associated with disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia.
by Silvia Soligon (Il Sole 24 Ore, 09/10/2013)