Affectionate touch in satisfying and dissatisfying romantic relationships

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Past research has shown consistent benefits associated with and resulting from affectionate touch, though past research is based almost exclusively on highly satisfied and otherwise non-representative samples. The current research used two nationally representative samples to test correlates (Study 1) and anticipated consequences (Study 2) of affectionate touch in romantic relationships. In Study 1, greater kissing frequency was associated with greater individual well-being, and these links were especially pronounced in the most satisfying relationships. In Study 2, participants who were randomly assigned to imagine receiving affectionate touch from their spouse anticipated greater individual well-being (less stress and greater life satisfaction) and relational benefits (greater perceived partner affection, state security, cognitive interdependence, and relationship quality). These benefits were stronger among people with moderate or high relationship satisfaction but observed even for the subset of individuals (approximately one-third of the sample) who rated their relationships as “distressed.” Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2287-2315
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • Affectionate touch
  • close relationships
  • distressed relationships
  • nonlinear
  • nonverbal communication
  • relationship satisfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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