Can hugs make you happier?

The first thing that comes to my mind when I see a friend or a relative upset is to embrace them and give them a hug. I never really thought why that’s my immediate instinct or as to why my intuition leads me to do it. That made me begin to wonder if hugs actually make the person feel better and give them happiness..

“Happiness” is ¬†known to come from the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin can be found in the central nervous systems, the gastrointestinal tract, and platelets of animals and humans. It is known to be the main contributor of feelings of well-being; therefore, it acquired the name “the happiness hormone.” People diagnosed with depression are known to have less levels of serotonin. My question is, do hugs really increase a person’s level of serotonin? Based on research, yes, hugging does increase one’s levels of serotonin.

A study found one-third of people receive no hugs on a daily basis and that 75% wanted more hugs. Many studies have been conducted that hugging increases self-esteem, enhances relationships, and decreases loneliness. So in conclusion, based on studies hugging can make you an all around better person; however, I believe there are many third variables in these studies that would change the overall outcome. Was the person being hugged a significant other, family member, close friend, acquaintance, or stranger to the hugger? I know personally that if a significant other, family member, or close friend would hug me when I wasn’t having a good day it would most definitely make me feel a little bit better at least for a few seconds, but if the person was an acquaintance or stranger I probably wouldn’t feel any better, but most likely a little freaked out. Therefore, many third variables come into play with the conclusion that hugs makes everyone feel better, but this will not stop me from hugging a family member or friend when they’re having a bad day.


5 thoughts on “Can hugs make you happier?

  1. Margaret Mercedes Mccarthy

    I think you were right on when you commented that a strangers hug would be less effective to you. In fact USA today believes the same the article stated “Some studies have indicated that touch among friends might be helpful but doesn’t produce nearly as much physical stress relief as contact with a partner, says psychologist Kathleen Light, co-author of the UNC study”

  2. Ha Young Kim

    I heard that hugging is the powerful healing therapy. There are many benefits of hugging and I want to list some of them as my comments. According to The Times of India, hugging not only balances out our nervous system, but also relaxes the muscle and take pains away. In addition, hugging lowers blood pressure, heart rates, and harmful stress hormones. It seems like hugging is a “cure-all” thing!!! It’s good know that hugging had these all benefits, because now I have more reasons to hug my friends, family and people whom I care about.

  3. gel5088

    In the study we find that there is a positive correlation between hugging and happiness. Since this was an observational study we do have to consider the third variables. As you mentioned, the significance of the hugger to the one that is being hugged, also I think a person’s state prior to the hug would play a huge role on how much the actual hug affects them. Also like Alexandra mentioned it could very well be reverse causation which we have to be careful of. Happy people could give more hugs in hopes of spreading the happiness. There is actually a campaign that agrees with this correlation and with that being said they can make the world a happier place by hugging.

  4. Alexandra Elizabeth Brooks

    This is not surprising to me about hugs making people happier, but what about reverse causation, happier people give more hugs! I think that’s an extremely probable explanation as well, but another thing I thought about was hugs when someone is very sad. Personally, whenever I’m on the verge of tears or very very upset about something, a hug from a loved one or someone I am close with makes me more upset, often times causing me to cry in their arms so to speak. So I guess my question is, can giving hugs to a sad person make them more upset, as I have so commonly done before? I think that would be a really interesting study to look into.

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