Growing up in Michigan, I didn’t really touch people. Other than the odd handshake, you keep your hands politely to yourself. So when I moved to New York after college, I was surprised to find that most people kiss hello—a quick peck on the other person’s right cheek—and hug goodbye.
Then I saw this fascinating study:
In the 1960s, Sidney Jourard studied conversations in various parts of the world between friends in a café. Americans, he discovered, touched only twice throughout the interaction. The French, however, made contact over 180 times.
(180 times!!!) Although I hug and kiss my family and children all the time, it still feels awkward to touch friends. Am I the only one? What about you? How often do you touch people? Do you hug and kiss your friends? Drape arms around each other? Touch each other’s arms when you laugh?
(Photo by Maurice-Louis Branger)