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New Research: Holding Your Partner's Hand Reduces Your Stress

What kind of study was this?

This was an experimental randomized, controlled trial (RCT). This means that all study participants were randomly assigned to either an experimental group that received an intervention, or a control group that did not receive the intervention. In RCTs, researchers measure the difference in key outcomes between these groups to see if the intervention had an effect.

What did researchers want to know?

They wanted to know whether spousal social support reduces stress and helps us get through stressful episodes in our lives.  

What did the researchers actually do?

They decided that holding the hands of your spouse is a good example of spousal social support. So, they had a randomly assigned group of participants (all couples) hold hands while completing a stressful task. They had another randomly assigned group complete the stressful task alone. They measured stress through a camera that can detect how the size of pupils in the eyes change over time. Other studies have shown that stress enlarges the size of pupils.

What did the researchers find?

They found that for couples who held hands, pupils didn’t react as much to stressful moments in the task and that pupils reacted less to stressful moments throughout the task. This means that couples holding hands had less stress in otherwise stressful moments, and these stressful moments became less stressful over time.

What does this mean for parents and kids?

Hold hands! Also, be aware that sometimes we withdraw during stressful periods in our lives (“I just need some time alone.”). But it may be that what we really need is to let our guard down and be close to our partners.

Original article:
Graff TC, Luke SG, Birmingham WC (2019) Supportive hand-holding attenuates pupillary responses to stress in adult couples. PLoS ONE 14(2): e0212703.
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0212703

New Research: Holding Your Partner's Hand Reduces Your Stress

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New Research: Holding Your Partner's Hand Reduces Your Stress

Holding your partner’s hand during stressful moments can reduce stress in the moment and also reduce your stress reaction over time to those types of moments.

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What kind of study was this?

This was an experimental randomized, controlled trial (RCT). This means that all study participants were randomly assigned to either an experimental group that received an intervention, or a control group that did not receive the intervention. In RCTs, researchers measure the difference in key outcomes between these groups to see if the intervention had an effect.

What did researchers want to know?

They wanted to know whether spousal social support reduces stress and helps us get through stressful episodes in our lives.  

What did the researchers actually do?

They decided that holding the hands of your spouse is a good example of spousal social support. So, they had a randomly assigned group of participants (all couples) hold hands while completing a stressful task. They had another randomly assigned group complete the stressful task alone. They measured stress through a camera that can detect how the size of pupils in the eyes change over time. Other studies have shown that stress enlarges the size of pupils.

What did the researchers find?

They found that for couples who held hands, pupils didn’t react as much to stressful moments in the task and that pupils reacted less to stressful moments throughout the task. This means that couples holding hands had less stress in otherwise stressful moments, and these stressful moments became less stressful over time.

What does this mean for parents and kids?

Hold hands! Also, be aware that sometimes we withdraw during stressful periods in our lives (“I just need some time alone.”). But it may be that what we really need is to let our guard down and be close to our partners.

Original article:
Graff TC, Luke SG, Birmingham WC (2019) Supportive hand-holding attenuates pupillary responses to stress in adult couples. PLoS ONE 14(2): e0212703.
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0212703

What kind of study was this?

This was an experimental randomized, controlled trial (RCT). This means that all study participants were randomly assigned to either an experimental group that received an intervention, or a control group that did not receive the intervention. In RCTs, researchers measure the difference in key outcomes between these groups to see if the intervention had an effect.

What did researchers want to know?

They wanted to know whether spousal social support reduces stress and helps us get through stressful episodes in our lives.  

What did the researchers actually do?

They decided that holding the hands of your spouse is a good example of spousal social support. So, they had a randomly assigned group of participants (all couples) hold hands while completing a stressful task. They had another randomly assigned group complete the stressful task alone. They measured stress through a camera that can detect how the size of pupils in the eyes change over time. Other studies have shown that stress enlarges the size of pupils.

What did the researchers find?

They found that for couples who held hands, pupils didn’t react as much to stressful moments in the task and that pupils reacted less to stressful moments throughout the task. This means that couples holding hands had less stress in otherwise stressful moments, and these stressful moments became less stressful over time.

What does this mean for parents and kids?

Hold hands! Also, be aware that sometimes we withdraw during stressful periods in our lives (“I just need some time alone.”). But it may be that what we really need is to let our guard down and be close to our partners.

Original article:
Graff TC, Luke SG, Birmingham WC (2019) Supportive hand-holding attenuates pupillary responses to stress in adult couples. PLoS ONE 14(2): e0212703.
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0212703

What kind of study was this?

This was an experimental randomized, controlled trial (RCT). This means that all study participants were randomly assigned to either an experimental group that received an intervention, or a control group that did not receive the intervention. In RCTs, researchers measure the difference in key outcomes between these groups to see if the intervention had an effect.

What did researchers want to know?

They wanted to know whether spousal social support reduces stress and helps us get through stressful episodes in our lives.  

What did the researchers actually do?

They decided that holding the hands of your spouse is a good example of spousal social support. So, they had a randomly assigned group of participants (all couples) hold hands while completing a stressful task. They had another randomly assigned group complete the stressful task alone. They measured stress through a camera that can detect how the size of pupils in the eyes change over time. Other studies have shown that stress enlarges the size of pupils.

What did the researchers find?

They found that for couples who held hands, pupils didn’t react as much to stressful moments in the task and that pupils reacted less to stressful moments throughout the task. This means that couples holding hands had less stress in otherwise stressful moments, and these stressful moments became less stressful over time.

What does this mean for parents and kids?

Hold hands! Also, be aware that sometimes we withdraw during stressful periods in our lives (“I just need some time alone.”). But it may be that what we really need is to let our guard down and be close to our partners.

Original article:
Graff TC, Luke SG, Birmingham WC (2019) Supportive hand-holding attenuates pupillary responses to stress in adult couples. PLoS ONE 14(2): e0212703.
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0212703

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