Studies have consistently supported the idea that physical touch is essential to human flourishing. One 2021 study looked at the effect of hand-holding by a significant other while recounting an emotionally painful event. Those who held another's hand rather than a squeeze ball experienced more comfort and less pain. The higher the relationship satisfaction, the more comfort a person got from the physical touch.
Another 2018 study looked at the effect of hugs on men and women after conflict. Researchers found that both men and women experienced suffering from conflict, and women felt significantly worse on the second day. But both men and women's feelings benefited from hugs after conflict, although women more so than men.