British researchers estimate that the ideal hug should last between five and 10 seconds. What's more, the positive effects are felt up to three minutes after the hug.
A hug, a cuddle, a squeeze -- it doesn't matter what you call it. Researchers have been looking into what makes the perfect hug. So, how long, what arm position and with whom? Let's hear it from the experts.
A hug should last between five and 10 seconds, say British researchers in the journal Acta Psychologica . For their first experiment, 48 female volunteers were recruited to receive hugs before evaluating their feelings. The result? "It was found that 5s and 10s hugs were rated as more pleasant and under control than 1s hugs," report the specialists. And their morale-boosting benefits are felt up to three minutes after the embrace.
Which arm position?
With the question of duration answered, the researchers wanted to know if huggers' arm position changed according to their gender and size. For this second study, they watched hugs between 206 people on campus. The huggers were given no specific instructions -- the goal was to observe how the volunteers instinctively placed their arms.
The researchers found that a hug between two people of the opposite sex more often results in a "crisscross style" hug, regardless of the size of the individuals involved. For same sex hugs, the diagonal arm-cross embrace -- think Joey and Chandler in "Friends" -- stands out as a trend for men hugging men. For women hugging women, the specialists did not observe any particular trend.
"We anticipate that the studies presented here will provide a foundation for future research on pleasant touch, especially for research on hugs, which are highly prevalent but still widely understudied," the researchers conclude.