Affectionate Touch Promotes Shared Positive Activities

Brett K. Jakubiak, Julian D. Fuentes, Brooke C. Feeney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Shared positive activities, such as engaging conversations and interactive play, enhance relationships and buffer the consequences of negative interactions. The current research tested whether affectionate touch (a prime target for intervention) encourages people to prioritize other shared positive activities and to view shared activities more positively. In a pre-registered dyadic diary study of married couples (Study 1), greater affectionate touch on one day predicted increases in shared positive activities concurrently and prospectively. In a pre-registered dyadic experiment (Study 2), a brief affectionate touch intervention increased self-reported (but not observer-rated) shared positive activities immediately and increased shared positive activities over the following week for people who do not typically engage in such activities. Participants assigned to touch (particularly those low in attachment anxiety) also perceived their partners more positively during shared activities. These results suggest that touch may facilitate positive relationship experiences broadly and supports a theoretical model of affectionate touch.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)939-954
Number of pages16
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • adult attachment
  • affectionate touch
  • romantic relationships
  • shared activities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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