Importance of Touch
1. Think of ways touch has power. Why is bodily contact suggested as the most
powerful code of nonverbal communication, as compared to eye contact or
Touch has great power to do a lot of things in the lives of human beings. Touch can be used to
comfort someone in a moment of sorrow at the time when words alone have no capacity to do
the same. The positive power of touch is at stake with the potential for the touch to be so
threatening because of its connection to sex and violence. Touch can be used to stimulate sexual
feelings in another person and at the same time, it can be used to initiate fights and quarrels
amongst people (Carlson). The common way of communication by touch which has proven to be
more effective is known as haptic. Bodily contact is considered as a better mode of
communication compared to another medium of communication such as eye contact because
touch is very significant for the social development of any human being. It can be persuasive,
welcoming or even threatening. Proxemics on the other hand basically implies the influence of
space in communication. It mainly emphasizes on personal space of individuals which should not
be breached by another party (Carlson). Touch, however, goes all the way and it indicates that a
particular individual is valued in the society and thereby its effectiveness in communication.
2. Discuss the merits of pet therapy and intergenerational massage as a means of
extending touch to elderly persons in our society who tend to be touch deprived.
Touch is one of the most significant senses of all. Right from the time we are born, even before
our eyes are open, a gentle touch makes us calm and assures us that there is someone who cares
for us. In the initial stages of life, touch creates a bond which effectively shapes us for the rest of
our lives. Research indicates that those who are touched regularly have a higher level of oxytocin
production (Landau). Oxytocin plays a very important role in reducing the stress hormone and
thereby lowering the blood pressure in individuals. It also maintains good moods and increases
the degree of tolerance for pain. Simple touch has the effect of easing our minds, make us feel
less isolated and reduce anxiety and stress. The need for consistency in touch as we grow older is
because no matter our age as human beings, we all love it when our hands are held, our backs are
rubbed or even a feeling of a warm embrace. These touches are very powerful and experts
recommend that the older people can have regular professional massages done to them (Landau).
In as much as the professional massages are not affectionate, the hormone produced, oxytocin, is
3. How can people get the meanings of touch confused, such as interpreting someone’s
friendship/warmth touch (Heslin category) as an indication of love or romantic
interest? Can category confusion alter a person’s touch ethic? Explain in details
There are different types of touch and these can easily be misinterpreted. The first category is
known as Functional or Professional Touch which mainly takes place in the workplaces. An
example in this category is the handshake which conveys the message of confidence but when
done too much it can be misunderstood. The second category is the Social Touch which varies
according to the societal norms (Moshenska). In some areas, a handshake is allowed for a formal
introduction while in some other places, a kiss on the cheeks is acceptable. Generally, men are
comfortable being touched by the opposite sex on the shoulder while women are not and these
results in confusing situations. Under the category of Friendly/ Warmth Touch, women are
generally more comfortable being touched by their female friends than males (Moshenska). In
such a setting even if you one doesn’t like touch, in order to show closeness, it is prudent to get
out of one’s comfort zone and show affection. There is the other category of Love/ Intimacy and
which is very important for relationships and finally, there is the Sexual/ Arousal Touch. Either
of these groupings can be confused in one way or the other and an individual should be very
careful about the non – verbal signals that he or she sends to the other person.
Carlson, F. M. Essential touch: Meeting the needs of young children. National Association for
the Education of Young Children, 2006.
Landau, E. The sense of touch. Children's Press, 2009.
Moshenska, J. Feeling pleasures: The sense of touch in Renaissance England. 2014.