Mental Floss

Hugging for benefit


Ever since arriving in LA, I've been receiving invites to Cuddle Parties, gatherings I can't help but regard with suspicion, despite the "cuddlemonials." I came close to going a few times, but my co-conspirators always dissolved at the last minute.

Earlier this year, a UK study led by primatologist Filippo Aureli found that spider monkeys in rival gangs were observed hugging each other to ease tensions, but also perhaps to size-up physical vulnerabilities in their opponents. Another study recently performed by Dr. Kathleen Light at UNC Chapel Hill showed increased levels of oxytocin, a pituitary hormone produced only in mammals, after "warm contact" situations--but only if each partner considered the other "supportive." So...I'm not sure I'd necessarily be able to lower my blood pressure at a Cuddle Party, but I am insanely curious and would love to prove to myself that it's not some Studio 54 backroom or in any other way illicit. You can browse their list of rules here (my favorite was "Rule # 2 - You don't have to cuddle anyone at a Cuddle Party, ever"). Are there Cuddle Partiers among us, or, alternately, people against the allegedly healing benefits of touching?