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The Psychology of Touch

By: S. Mercedez Calleros
Posted: June 25, 2008, from the January 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

You could not exist without touch. From the moment of your birth to the final minutes of your life, touch is one basic human need for which everyone hungers. It is an essential force that shapes and molds your personality, as well as how you present yourself in the world.

Through physical touch, a variety of emotions and reactions is conveyed and elicited. There are many forms of touch—a friendly handshake, a loving pat on the cheek or even a punch that delivers pain and discomfort.

Touching someone begins when you enter into their presence. You can tell immediately whether you are welcome or are perceived as an intrusion. You either are enveloped by the warmth of closeness and familiarity or are blocked by a wall of coldness.

Categories of touch

Although touch offers a richly detailed and almost infinite range of sensations, some of the most frequent types include the following.

Loving and/or intimate. Hand-holding, hugs, kisses or an arm draped across your shoulders all are types of touch that bring out feelings of fondness, desire, tenderness, passion and belonging.