Longing for touch post-COVID-19: current observations and future directions

Birgit Hasenack*, Larissa L. Meijer, Anna van Harmelen, Krista E. Overvliet, Anouk Keizer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Previous studies have reported an association between the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing regulations and longing for touch (LFT; i.e., a discrepancy between actual touch frequency and one’s desire to be touched). However, less is known about the prevalence and severity of LFT in the general population in the absence of social distancing regulations. The aim of this study was therefore to exploratively compare data collected during and after the pandemic. Pandemic data was collected online in an international sample (n = 1982), of which a matched subsample (n = 115) was used in the reported analyses. Post-pandemic data was collected one week after social distancing regulations restrictions were lifted in the Netherlands (n = 60) and when virtually no restrictions were in place (n = 55). The severity of LFT was significantly higher during the pandemic than afterwards. Although there were no significant differences in the general prevalence of LFT, significantly more participants reported high levels of LFT (score of 75–100) during the pandemic. We cautiously conclude that, although LFT may have peaked during the pandemic, a large portion of the general population desires to experience more interpersonal touch, even in the absence of social distancing regulations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number22131
Number of pages6
JournalScientific Reports
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2023

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