Monday, 16 Nov, 2009 Science

Holding Hands or Watching Photos of a Loved One Lowers Pain

Scientists claim that touching or watching a partner during difficult times of distress lowers his or her pain. Psychologists at the University of California say that this technique is especially effective for women. A person can also ease the pain by watching a photograph of the loved one. According to the researchers, the finding "underscores the importance of social relationships and staying socially connected." The team studied 25 volunteers - most of them were female students who reported being in a good relationship with their partner for at least 6 months.

The study showed that if young women were given a soft burn, they felt less pain when looking at the pictures of their boyfriends. The same effect was reported when volunteers held the hands with their significant others when researchers applied a "moderately painful heat stimuli" to their forearms.

"This changes our notion of how social support influences people," said Researcher Naomi Eisenberger, an assistant professor of psychology who took part in the research. In another study, each woman was asked to hold the hand of her boyfriend and then the hand of a stranger. The tests revealed that less physical pain was felt when the participants held the hand of their loved ones compared to when they were holding the hand of an unknown person.

According to Prof Eisenberger the current research reveals "how much of an impact our social ties can have on our experience and fits with other work, emphasizing the importance of social support for physical and mental health." The study is available in the journal Psychological Science.

Posted by Maxriter

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