People Were Asked To Map The Places They Would Allow Others To Touch. Here Are The Results.

A useful thing to keep in mind.

The do's and don'ts of human interaction involve lots of minuscule details such as smiling when you meet a new person, not intervening when someone else is talking and such.

However, understanding of personal space is probably the most important factor in fostering good interpersonal relations. But it's not always easy to master.

Here's where science comes in handy!

Researchers from the University of Oxford and Finland's Aalto University worked together to develop a so-called "touchability index," which indicates how comfortable people feel with others touching certain areas of their body.


The study produced a heat map that shows where people feel like it's OK to touch them based on their relationships with one another.

Scientists asked more than 1,300 men and women from five different countries (Finland, France, Italy, Russia and the UK) to color code parts of their body they would allow certain people to touch, as well as those that others should stay away from.

"The answers were combined to create maps that show how touchable areas of the body are for particular relationships and also which areas are taboo," reads the press release.

So here's a breakdown of the results:

Touched by a partner.

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Basically, the darker the color, the less comfortable people feel with being touched there with black being the "taboo" zone.

In this case, women feel completely fine with their partner touching any part of their body, whereas men are just a little bit more tensed when it comes to the lower half.

Touched by a female friend.

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When touched by a female friend, men tend to feel pretty relaxed and the only area that's nearing towards a no-no is the groin. 

Same applies for women, although chest also falls into the na-ah zone.

Touched by a male friend.

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However, things tend to heat up when the friend in question is a guy. 

Research shows women feel more at ease compared to their male counterparts, but in both cases, face, legs, chestal area and all the goodies below are off-limits.

Touched by a female acquaintance.

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Here's an interesting turn of events! Apparently, when it comes to women they somewhat know, men feel kind of comfortable with them touching their entire body.

On the other hand, there's no way a woman would let a female acquaintance grope their private parts or legs and even face for that matter. 

Touched by a male acquaintance.

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Things can be easily predicted for this one. Women continue to feel very protective of their body when it comes to male acquaintances. Holding hands is fine, according to the heat map, though.

However, for guys it's a major deal breaker to be touched by another guy they barely know. Anywhere, basically.

Touched by a female stranger.

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Ah! This is a good one. So it seems like even though guys wouldn't feel 100 percent comfortable, they also wouldn't really mind being touched by a female stranger. And we're not just talking about hands ...

What about women? Ladies say no to a stranger's touch. Hands and arms are OK, but the rest of the body might result in a black eye.

Touched by a male stranger.

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When it comes to random guys, the news are not looking good. 

Not men nor women want to be touched by a stranger. Although ladies demonstrate a little bit more tolerance and it looks like they would agree to hold hands or let them touch their face.


"The results indicate that touching is an important means of maintaining social relationships," says researcher Juulia Suvilehto from Aalto University.

According to her, the size of our touchability index is closely related to the pleasure caused by that touch — the greater the pleasure, the more selective we are towards who gets to touch it.

"Touch is universal. Even in an era of mobile communications and social media, touch is still important for establishing and maintaining the bonds between people," Suvilehto adds.

(H/T: University of OxfordPNAS)


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