People who tend to hug a lot are suffering from "skin hunger" in the social distancing times and certain genes are to be blamed for this behaviour, especially for women, for a constant urge to give jadoo ki jhappi to everyone.
A new study of twins has found that genetics play a significant role in how affectionate women are, but the same can't be said for men. Those who are more predisposed to being affectionate might especially miss hugs and handshakes in the era of COVID-19 physical distancing.
People who live alone or who are limiting social interactions during the pandemic may experience what's referred to as "skin hunger".
"Just like regular hunger reminds us that we're not getting enough to eat, skin hunger is the recognition that we're not getting enough touch in our lives," said Kory Floyd, a professor in the University Arizona's Department of Communication.
Many people these days are recognizing that they miss getting hugs, they miss touch, and it's maybe the one thing technology hasn't really figured out how to give us yet.
Researchers found that in women, variability in affectionate behaviour can be explained 45 per cent by hereditary and 55 per cent by environmental influences, such as the media, personal relationships and other unique life experiences. Genetics, however, do not appear to influence how affectionate men are.
Men's variation in affectionate behaviour instead seems to be solely influenced by environmental factors, a finding that came as a surprise to the researchers in a paper published in the journal Communication Monographs.
While there is no real substitute for human touch, Floyd says there are a few things people can do. "Petting an animal can help relieve stress, which is why canine and equine therapies are so successful," said Floyd. Many of us grew up with a favourite stuffed toy or security blanket. "Adults, too, can experience calm and comfort from snuggling up to a pillow, blanket or other soft object that feels good against the skin," the authors wrote.
Some people massage their own necks or shoulders to relieve stress and physical pain. Pressing your thumb into the palm of your opposite hand is one type of stress-relieving massage.
"None of these is a perfect substitute," Floyd said, "but when being able to hug or hold hands with our loved ones isn't feasible or safe for us, these sorts of things are certainly better than nothing."
"A study like this makes room for us to talk about the possibility that a number of social and behavioral traits that we automatically assume are learned may also have a genetic component," said Floyd. (IANS)