According to a recent study, published in Communication Monographs, led by Kory Floyd, a professor in the University Arizona Department of Communication in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the level of affection expressed by women, to an extent, can be understood by analyzing genetics and their environment. However, the same cannot be said for men.
“The question that drove the study was: Recognizing that some people are more affectionate than others, what accounts for that variation, and is any part of that variation genetic?” said Floyd, whose research focuses on the communication of affection in close relationships and its effects on stress and physiological functioning.
464 pairs of adult twins, half identical and half fraternal, between the ages 19 and 84 where used in the study. Twins are typically are raised in the same household with similar upbringings and early experiences.
Each twin rated a series of statements designed to measure how much affection they typically express. The researchers then looked at how similar each twin pair’s responses were.
The identical twin pairs scored more similarly than the fraternal twin pairs. Women scored higher than men. The researchers also found that twins’ shared environment, such as how they were raised or their socioeconomic background, had little bearing on how affectionate they were.
“Our genes simply predispose us to certain kinds of behaviors; that doesn’t automatically mean we’re going to engage in those behaviors. And it certainly doesn’t mean that we have no control over them,” Floyd said.
In the era of COVID-19 physical distancing, people who are more predisposed to being affectionate might suffer more from lack of hugs and handshakes.
“Just like regular hunger reminds us that we’re not getting enough to eat, the hunger for affection is the recognition that we’re not getting enough touch in our lives,” Floyd said. Floyd added: “Many people these days are recognizing that they miss getting hugs, they miss the touch, and it’s maybe the one thing technology hasn’t really figured out how to give us yet.”
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