Individual differences in affective touch: Behavioral inhibition and gender define how an interpersonal touch is perceived

Harjunen, Ville and Ahmed, Imtiaj and Ravaja, Niklas and Spapé, Michiel M. (2017) Individual differences in affective touch: Behavioral inhibition and gender define how an interpersonal touch is perceived. Personality and Individual Differences, 107. pp. 88-95. ISSN 0191-8869 (Accepted for Publication)

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Receiving a tender caress from a caregiver or spouse reduces stress and promotes emotional wellbeing, but receiving the same caress from a stranger makes us feel uncomfortable. According to recent neurophysiological findings, we not only react differently to the invited versus uninvited touch but also perceive the touch differently depending on context. A virtual reality experiment was conducted to investigate whether individual differences regarding behavioral inhibition system (BIS) and gender contribute to this affective touch perception. Touch perception was measured directly using self-reports and indirectly using the touch-related orienting response. The results showed that touch perception depended on the emotional expression of the virtual agents. High-arousal approach-related (happiness, anger) and avoidance-related (fear) expressions increased self-reported touch intensity, while happiness reduced the orienting response to touch. Moreover, interpersonal differences in behavioral inhibition and gender played distinct roles: BIS sensitivity in males was associated with stronger affective touch perception, particularly with high-arousal emotions whereas in females BIS sensitivity did not affect touch perception. The results suggest that individual differences that are related to preferences regarding tactile communication also determine how touch is perceived.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information and Comments: “NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Personality and Individual Differences. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Personality and Individual Differences, [VOL 107, ISSUE#, (March 2017)] DOI#10.1016/j.paid.2016.11.047¨
Keywords: interpersonal touch, touch perception, orienting response, facial expressions, BIS
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Science > Psychology
Depositing User: Michiel Spape
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2016 16:54
Last Modified: 22 Nov 2018 01:15

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