Want to spread compassion? Reach out and touch someone

Dacher Keltner, executive director of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, shares insights from the new science of touch: compassionate communication, touch therapies, and proof that “to touch is to give life.”

The social functions of touch include:

  • feelings of reward
  • reciprocity
  • signals safety
  • soothes
  • releases oxytocin
  • promotes cooperation

The results of Touch Therapy are even more significant:

  • Increases weight of premature babies by 47%
  • Reduces depression in patients with Alzheimers
  • Doubles likelihood children will speak in class
  • Boosts library use and enjoyment

From a persuasive technology point of view, we wonder if iPhone apps can be created that can create feelings of well being through the multi-touch interface.  Your thoughts?

2 Replies to “Want to spread compassion? Reach out and touch someone”

  1. Considering that people seem to get a sense of fellowship from playing Farmville, I would think it is possible to create a sense of well-being through an iPhone app. In my observations, it seems that people playing Farmville view themselves as interacting with the character they have created on the screen as much or more than with the other people who are playing the game. Therefore, it seems reasonable to posit that such people would be able to interact with an iPhone app in some way that gives them a sense of peace of well-being.

  2. Yes, doctors, teachers, mothers need to use touch in a positive way. In my husbands culture it is common for women to greet one another with a hug and a kiss on both cheeks, something we might only do with a families if at all in America!

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