Data from: Cross-cultural similarity in relationship-specific social touching

  • Juulia Suvilehto (Creator)
  • Lauri Nummenmaa (University of Turku) (Creator)
  • Tokiko Harada (Creator)
  • Robin Dunbar (Creator)
  • Riitta Hari (Creator)
  • Robert Turner (Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences) (Creator)
  • Norihito Sadato (National Institute for Physiological Sciences ) (Creator)
  • Ryo Kitada (Nanyang Technological University) (Creator)



Many species use touching for reinforcing social structures, and particularly non-human primates use social grooming for managing their social networks. However, it is still unclear how social touch contributes to maintenance and reinforcement of human social networks. Human studies in Western cultures suggest that the body locations where touch is allowed are associated with the strength of the emotional bond between the person touched and the toucher. However, it is unknown to what extent this relationship is culturally universal and generalizes to non-Western cultures. Here, we compared relationship-specific, bodily touch allowance maps across one Western (N = 386, United Kingdom) and one East Asian (N = 255, Japan) country. In both cultures, strength of emotional bond was linearly associated with permissible touch area. However, Western participants experienced social touching as more pleasurable than Asian participants. These results indicate a similarity of emotional bonding via social touch between East Asian and Western cultures.
Date made available18 Apr 2019
PublisherDryad Digital Repository

Dataset Licences

  • CC0-1.0

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