In a study that sounds deceptively redundant, science has revealed that human beings like being touched in some places more than others.
Yes, we know what you’re thinking. This scientific revelation is ridiculously obvious, and everyone is (hopefully) familiar with what is OK and not OK to touch on another human’s body. But the way this study compares specific body parts that are on and off-limits for men or women, depending on who’s doing the touching, is fascinating because it showcases the role that touch plays in the various relationships in our lives.
Following a silhouette experiment that surveyed 1,300 people and their touch preferences, scientists at Oxford University provided this colourful diagram of their results:
The vibrant infographic reveals exactly where we like and dislike being touched. The lighter the body part colour, the more we like being touched there by the identified “toucher.”
Since the diagram is kind of confusing, we thought we’d make it simple by breaking it down by body part, and who we like touching them (or not).
Men like it most when their partner touches their head. They’re OK with immediate family and friends doing it, but by everyone else it’s totally off-limits. Especially strangers.
Women like it most when their partner touches their head, too. They’re fine with all family members doing it, but dislike a head rub from acquaintances and strangers. Makes sense, right?
Men truly hate when strangers touch their shoulders. Everyone else is fine.
Women are also pretty fine with a good ol’ shoulder touch from everyone, except people they don’t know.
Men only like having their partners touch their chest. They are especially uncomfortable when strangers do it.
Women obviously don’t like having anyone touch their chest except their partners. But for some reason, they don’t hate when strangers do it as much as men do. But they do dislike it.
Men like having their partners touch their back. They’re fine with everyone else touching their upper backs, except strangers.
Women are fine with everyone touching their back, except for strangers. Those pesky strangers.
Not surprisingly, men only like having their partner touch their crotch. Distant family members and strangers are especially off-limits in this private region. Duh.
Women are obviously the same way. Again, duh.
Like everything else, men only like it when their partner touches their butt. They’re more tolerant of friends and brothers touching their butts over anyone else. Maybe that explains the whole butt-smacking-in-sports thing.
Women only like their partner touching their butt as well. They are more tolerant of moms, sisters and friends touching their butts than anyone else. OK, we admit, this study is getting super weird.
Men only like their partner touching their legs. The further removed from their immediate family, the more uncomfortable they get when their legs are touched.
Women only like it when their partner touches their legs as well. They’re fine with their mothers touching them, but become increasingly uncomfortable with everyone else.
Hm. It seems that men and women like being touched by their partners more than anyone else. The less intimate our relationship is with “the toucher,” the more we dislike being touched by them, especially in private areas. Who would have thought?
[Ed. Note: This is not a licence to go touch strangers to verify the truth of this research. Please don’t.]