Touch Me, Can’t You See That I Am Not Afraid

by Karen Topakian

Being touched by a woman particularly your mother seems to produce lasting impacts.

In a recent psychological study, Leslie Seltzer a biological anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison demonstrated that when under stress, the sound of a mother’s voice or a mother’s hug could release stress equally.

The study performed on seven to 12 year old girls who were asked to deliver an impromptu speech and complete a series of math problems in front of strangers. Proved that a mother’s voice on the phone or a hug both reduced stress. Oxytocin levels rose significantly washing away the cortisol stress maker. And the effects lasted longer than expected.

Dr. Seltzer hypothesized that females create or use social bonds to help deal with stressors.

Across the border in Canada, Jennifer J. Argo at the University of Alberta and across the country at Columbia University in New York, Jonathan Levav studied how physical contact can affect adult’s willingness to take risks. Specifically investing money or taking a gamble.

“The researchers found that participants who were touched felt more secure and took bigger risks than those who weren’t – but only if they were touched by a woman. The effect was stronger for a touch on the back than for a handshake, but went away entirely for participants who were touched by a man.”

The scientists believe since mothers touch their babies often, this sensation creates a sense of attachment, which makes babies feel secure. This sense of security linked to touch lasts with us into adulthood.

Two questions arise.

How many women must have touched Bernie Madoff, Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, Ken Stumpf of Wells Fargo, Ken Lewis of BofA,… to make them feel secure enough to take so many financial risks with other people’s money?

What if your mother is the cause of stress in your life? How do you reduce your stress when she calls?

Any other questions come to mind?