Where can you touch people? Body map shows what makes us uncomfortable
No touching your cousin unless it’s a handshake
A new body map finally shows where people are comfortable being touched by strangers, friends and other relatives.
Boys don’t have anywhere out of bounds for a stranger, as long as that stranger happens to be a girl – according to the biggest ever research on physical contact.
On the other hand, boys apparently refuse to let their male friends touch their feet.
While girls were comfortable to let their boyfriends touch any part of their body, boys were less likely to let their girlfriends go near their ribs or thighs.
But unsurprisingly, the less we know someone the less comfortable we are being touched by them.
While a girl might be happy for her uncle to stroke her back, her front would be totally off limits.
The closer people are, the less areas which are taboo – and both boys and girls only felt comfortable with their partners touching sensitive parts of the body.
Male strangers should know that almost all parts of the female body are to be avoided, other than the hands.
For the boys, a girl they barely know has similar touching rights to a parent and more than a brother or sister.
Oxford University psychologists wanted to find out where we are comfortable being touched, and this mostly depends on who is doing the touching.
Almost 1,500 men and women from Britain, Finland, France, Italy and Russia were given a series of outlines of the human body and asked to colour in which parts they would allow someone to touch, front and back.
Each person created touchability maps for 13 members of their social network, including their partner, their parents, their siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and acquaintances.
Professor Dunbar, the evolutionary psychologist who led the research, said touch helps maintain relationships by triggering the release of endorphins, the feel-good brain chemicals usually associated with exercise.
He said: “Touch is universal. While culture does modulate how we experience it, generally we all respond to touching in the same way.
“Even in an era of mobile communications and social media, touch is still important for establishing and maintaining bonds between people.”