Is it bad to hug very hard

Hugs: Feelings decide how we hug each other

From which side do people hug and why? Biopsychologists from the Ruhr University in Bochum have investigated these questions in a study that has now been published

Whether a quick squeeze or a long cuddle: hugs are part of human relationships and are one of the most common non-verbal behaviors.

From an early age we learn that hugs express affection and love - in both beautiful and sad moments. Hugs bring sadness, protection and can also be an expression of joy - for example, when greeting.

Evaluated more than 2500 hugs

Researchers at the Ruhr University Bochum have now investigated how the emotional context influences the hug and whether motor characteristics such as handedness influence the direction of the hug.

The scientists evaluated over 2500 hugs. They observed 2,000 hugs at a German airport, another 500 hugs from strangers on the open street, and in the laboratory, the researchers finally had 120 test subjects hug a mannequin.

Farewell hugs and fear

At a German airport, the researchers observed 1,000 hugs in a departure terminal and another 1,000 hugs in an arrival terminal for international flights.

During the hugs in the departure terminal, they assumed negative emotions from the people hugging - on the one hand, people close to each other said goodbye here, and on the other, studies show that almost 40 percent of all passengers suffer from fear of flying. During the hugs in the arrival terminal, the joy of seeing you again and relief from the flight that has been overcome ensure positive feelings.

Neutral hugs

The scientists used the YouTube video platform to observe neutral hugs. Here they found records of actors offering blindfolded hugs to strangers in the street. They were able to evaluate over 500 such hugs.

The right side is more popular when hugging

The researchers found that most people prefer a right-hand hug - that is, a hug where the right hand is passed over the other person's left shoulder. "With a hug, the direction of the arm and hand defines on which side two people are hugging," says Julian Packheiser from the Ruhr University Bochum.

But it also showed that people hugged on the left side more often in both beautiful and unpleasant situations than in neutral situations. "This is due to the influence of the right half of the brain, which controls the left half of the body and processes both positive and negative emotions," explains Julian Packheiser. "

The influence of handedness and feetiness

For these examinations, the researchers asked another 120 subjects to hug a mannequin in the laboratory after the subjects had listened to various positive, negative, or neutral short stories.

The scientists recorded handedness and feetiness using questionnaires. By observing the hugs, the researchers noticed that the hands and feet of those involved actually have an impact on the direction in which a hug is performed. Right-handers were more likely to hug someone from the right than left-handers.

Hugs between men are more left-wing

A special case is the hug between two men: Here, the scientists found a stronger left-wing orientation even in neutral situations. "We interpret this in such a way that many men regard male hugs as negative and therefore tend to be perceived as negative even in situations such as a greeting," says Sebastian Ocklenburg from the Ruhr University in Bochum.

Accordingly, because of the negative emotions, the right half of the brain becomes active and influences the motoric execution to the left.

More information about the study

The researchers published the detailed results under the title "Embracing your emotions: affective state impacts lateralization of human embraces" in the journal Psychological Research released.