The Areas We Let Others Touch Are Consistent Across Cultures

It's a given that what's socially acceptable in one country might not be in another. People in Germany stand at arm's length during conversations with acquaintances, for example, while those in Italy are comfortable standing closer together. But according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the areas we allow others to touch are remarkably similar across cultures. The researchers had 1,300 people from Finland, England, Italy, France, and Russia color the areas of the human body where they'd allow various members of their social network — from romantic partners to total strangers — to touch them.

Regardless of culture, these "bodily maps of touch" were the same. Specifically, they related to pleasure: the greater the pleasure caused by touching a certain area, the closer relationship we need to have with the person to touch it. The study's authors think this means that the way we touch each other goes beyond culture, and might be hardwired into our biology. We've collected some awesome videos on this topic. Watch them now to learn more.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. One study found that all a couple needs to do to stay together is watch sappy movies and talk about them. 00:36

  2. Dr. Gary Chapman lists five "love languages": words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. 01:54

  3. Those who frame their relationship as a unity have more dismal romantic outcomes than those who frame their relationship as a journey. 04:52

Written by Curiosity Staff July 6, 2016

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