New BBC research shows positive effect of touch therapies
A global study from BBC Radio 4 programme All in the Mind and Wellcome Collection has discovered that those who view interpersonal touch positively have a better general wellbeing and are less likely to experience loneliness.
The Touch Test, which primarily took place before the UK was in lockdown, investigated public attitudes and experiences of touch and demonstrated that most people view interpersonal touch positively with nearly half of adults feeling that society didn’t enable us to touch enough, even before the Covid-19 pandemic. The study
- 61% of people said a hug from a partner before sleep had a positive effect on their sleep, while only 4% said it had a negative effect
- People who don’t like touch were more likely to be people who find it difficult to form trusting relationships
- 72% of people reported a positive attitude towards touch
- 43% of typical adults feel that society does not enable us to touch enough
- 88% of people liked public displays of affection by their partners
The study consisted of a self-selecting sample where people chose to participate. The online questionnaire was developed by academics in the Department of Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London and led by Professor Michael Banissy in collaboration with Dr Natalie Bowling from the University of Greenwich. The study ran from January 21 to March 30, 2020, receiving almost 40,000 responses across 112 different countries.
The impact for spas and salons
Interestingly for those involved in touch-related spa and salon treatments, the study found that 72% of people reported a positive attitude towards touch, with people who liked touch tending to score higher on extraversion, openness to new experiences and agreeableness, especially if it’s touch involving non-family members. The three most common words used to describe touch were: comforting, warm, and love.
Professor Michael Banissy said: “This is the largest study of its kind and provides the most detailed source of insight that we have on contemporary attitudes and experiences of touch. It indicates the importance of touch in our lives.”
This brings some encouraging news to the salon and spa industry and highlights how the positive repercussions of touch-focused treatments not only affect the physical wellbeing of the client but also the mental wellbeing.
Read more: the updated government guidance for close contact services