Hand-in-Hand Combat: Affectionate Touch Promotes Relational Well-Being and Buffers Stress During Conflict

Brittany K. Jakubiak, Brooke C. Feeney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations

Abstract

Relational conflict has a considerable impact on relational and personal well-being, but whether that impact is positive or negative depends on how the conflict is managed. Individuals struggle to have constructive conflicts that protect their relationships and avoid excess stress, which can lead to declines in relationship quality over time. The current set of experiments tested whether a brief touch intervention would promote relational well-being and prevent stress during couple conflict discussions. Results indicated that engaging in touch prior to and during conflict was effective to improve couple-members’ conflict behavior and to buffer stress in real (Experiment 1) and imagined (Experiments 2a and 2b) contexts. The results of these experiments suggest that touch may be a simple yet effective intervention for improving couple conflict discussions. In addition, we provide initial evidence that enhanced state security and cognitive interdependence serve as mechanisms underlying these effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-446
Number of pages16
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Volume45
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

Keywords

  • close relationships
  • conflict
  • intervention
  • touch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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