Exploring the Influence of Geographic Region and Cultural Indulgence on Tactile Behaviors

  •  Michael J. Miller    
  •  Peter A. Andersen    
  •  Dana L. Rogers    
  •  Kate S. Kurtin    


In this study, touch behavior was monitored via live-feed webcams in 18 bars, spread across 5 continents (North America, South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia) for 213 hours. Our findings offer support for a link between equatorial proximity (measured by latitude) and cultural indulgence with more tactile communication. In cultures where indulgence versus restraint was more normative, those perceived as females initiated more touch in both opposite- and same- sex dyads. Moreover, in cultures closer to the equator, there was an increase in touch frequency and the number of body locations touched. Housed within these findings is the idea that geographical location may play a predictable role in motivating the development of cultural communication norms and behaviors. We consider the influence of sunlight, topography, history, and other culture-specific forces on the development of touch norms. 

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