With people facing lockdown the world over, starved of contact with loved ones, society after coronavirus will be one that is more in need of touch than ever before. And delivering touch underpins the spa experience.
Just before COVID-19 hit, a global study was launched to “explore our attitudes towards the physical experience of touch” and investigate whether contemporary society experiences ‘touch hunger’.
The Touch Test is an online questionnaire developed by researchers at Goldsmiths University of London and launched by the BBC and the Wellcome Collection museum. It seeks answers about the similarities and differences in our experiences of touch, with the aim of increasing our understanding of its role in health and wellbeing. It explores issues such as how our attitudes towards touch vary by age, nationality and gender and whether contemporary society allows us to get enough touch or leaves us wanting more.
“Touch is an incredibly powerful force in our daily lives, it’s not often until we stop to think about it that we realise how much of a role it actually plays,” says Goldsmiths’ Michael Banissy, a social neuroscience expert who’s conducting the study. “It plays a role in so many human behaviours ranging from the aggressive to the most intimate and it can play a huge role in our development, our social interactions, perceptions of ourselves and our health and wellbeing.”
According to researchers, the study will help shed more light on the unknown subject of how touch affects our minds and bodies in social situations, an area which is not well-explored. “We know a lot about how we process touch but we tend to know a lot less about the use of touch socially and how we use it in a communicative way,” says Banissy.
The study was launched on BBC Radio 4’s All In The Mind programme, which has previously investigated rest and loneliness with contributions from more than 70,000 participants. Presenter Claudia Hammond says: “Like rest and loneliness, touch is something that affects us all – and is more complex than you might think. The Touch Test gives people the opportunity to contribute to large-scale, pioneering research into the topic.”
The Touch Test results are expected to be announced towards the end of this year and will be explored in an upcoming BBC series, The Anatomy of Touch.
Read more about the previous rest and loneliness studies: http://lei.sr/G8W7u and http://lei.sr/9w0c0