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The Real Reason Some People Hate Being Hugged, According to Science

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People Hate Being Hugged

Do your knees buckle and your palms start sweating when someone strolls toward you with wide, open arms? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, more people respond to a potential hug this way than you might think and, thanks to science, we finally understand why. 

According to experts, a person’s inclination to be hugged (or not) largely depends on how they were raised. Suzanne Degges-White, professor of Counseling and Counselor Education at Northern Illinois University explains:

“Our tendency to engage in physical touch—whether hugging, a pat on the back, or linking arms with a friend—is often a product of our early childhood experiences,”

As Time reported, a 2012 study published in Comprehensive Psychology found that people who were raised by parents who were frequent huggers were more likely to be huggers themselves in adulthood. Conversely, people who were raised by parents who rarely hugged were more likely to grow up with an aversion to that particular display of affection. The study also concluded that “hugging is an important element in a child’s emotional upbringing.”

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“In a family that was not typically physically demonstrative, children may grow up and follow that same pattern with their own kids,” said Degges-White. The researchers also noted that the opposite effect can also occur:

“Some children grow up and feel ‘starved’ for touch and become social huggers that can’t greet a friend without an embrace or a touch on the shoulder.” 

Surprising it may be, the amount of physical contact a child receives at an early age can leave a lasting physiological impact. According to Darcia Narvaez, professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dome, there are two main ways that not being touched can affect a growing body. 

The first is that it leads to an underdeveloped vagus nerve, a bundle of nerves that run through the spinal cord. Research shows that an underdeveloped vagus nerve can decrease a person’s ability to be intimate or compassionate. The oxytocin system, which plays a role in how humans form bonds with other people, may also be affected. Another factor is self-esteem and body issues. If someone is concerned with their outward appearance, they may be uncomfortable with touching others. 

Degges-White explains:

People who are more open to physical touch with others typically have higher levels of self-confidence. People who have higher levels of social anxiety, in general, may be hesitant to engage in affectionate touches with others, including friends.”

Credit: Pixabay

Finally, there is also a cultural component to not wanting to be hugged. According to a 2010 study by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, people in the U.S. and England hug way less than people in France and Puerto Rico do.

Some people like being touched, others absolutely abhor it. So, what is the solution? The Emily Post Institute recommends never hugging someone unless you are well-acquainted. The body language of someone expecting a hug is clearly open arms and (generally) a smile. Otherwise, a simple handshake is more than suitable to meet and greet old and new acquaintances alike.

For those who are still resistant to being hugged, consider this: a 2015 study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University looked at the effects of hugs and other forms of affection and found that touch actually strengthens the immune system. Specifically, researchers found that people who felt loved experienced a 32% immune boost. “Those who receive more hugs are somewhat more protected from infection,” the study concluded.

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Health

Washington State to Give Away Free Cannabis Joints With COVID-19 Jabs

Elias Marat

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Licensed cannabis dispensaries in Washington have been given the go-ahead by authorities to offer free joints to adults who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The “Joints for Jabs” program announced on Monday by the state’s liquor and cannabis board allows marijuana proprietors to offer pre-rolled joints to anyone over 21 who gets a vaccine shot at a clinic by July 12.

The offer only applies to pre-rolled weed cigarettes, and not to other products like edibles or loose cannabis flower, reports Associated Press.

So far, 58 percent of Washington residents have received at least a single dose while 49 percent have been fully vaccinated, according to the New York Times.

Gov. Jay Inslee has said that he would lift all pandemic restrictions by month’s end, if not sooner, once 70 percent of residents over the age of 16 have received their first dose of the vaccine.

The new promotion is a part of increased efforts by the state to allow breweries, wineries, restaurants and entertainment venues to offer free beverages and other goods in exchange for proof of vaccination. Free sports tickets and lotteries for cash prizes have also been offered to incentivize the vaccine for hesitant residents of the state.

States and cities across the United States have offered various promotions since the pace of vaccinations began to sharply decline in April.

The Biden administration has encouraged such creative approaches in hopes to keep up the rapid pace of vaccinations across the country, with White House officials saying that states could pay for the promotions using federal relief funds.

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Health

Biden to Ban Menthol Cigarettes, Citing Health Impact on Youth and Black People

Elias Marat

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The Biden administration is reportedly planning to propose an immediate ban on menthol cigarettes, a product that has long been targeted by anti-smoking advocates and critics who claim that the tobacco industry has aggressively marketed to Black people in the U.S.

On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the administration could announce a ban on menthol and other flavored cigarettes as soon as this week.

Roughly 85 percent of Black smokers use such menthol brands as Newport and Kool, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Research has also found that menthol cigarettes are easier to become addicted to and harder to quit than unflavored tobacco products, along with other small cigars popular with young people and African Americans.

Civil rights advocates claim that the decision should be greeted by Black communities and people of color who have been marketed to by what they describe as the predatory tobacco industry.

Black smokers generally smoke far less than white smokers, but suffer a disproportionate amount of deaths due to tobacco-linked diseases like heart attack, stroke, and other causes.

Anti-smoking advocates like Matthew L. Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, also greeted the move to cut out products that appeal to children and young adults.

“Menthol cigarettes are the No. 1 cause of youth smoking in the United States,” he said. “Eliminating menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars used by so many kids will do more in the long run to reduce tobacco-related disease than any action the federal government has ever taken.”

However, groups including the American Civil Liberties Group (ACLU) has opposed the move, citing the likelihood that such an action could lead to criminal penalties arising from the enforcement of a ban hitting communities of color hardest.

In a letter to administration officials, the ACLU and other groups including the Drug Policy Alliance said that while the ban is “no doubt well-intentioned” it would also have “serious racial justice implications.”

“Such a ban will trigger criminal penalties, which will disproportionately impact people of color, as well as prioritize criminalization over public health and harm reduction,” the letter explained. “A ban will also lead to unconstitutional policing and other negative interactions with local law enforcement.”

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Environment

Pollution Is Making Human Penises Shrink and Causing a Collapse of Fertility, Scientists Say

Elias Marat

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With many still scoffing at the idea of rampant pollution posing a threat to humanity, a new study could drastically change the conversation: the chemicals across our environment could be the cause of shrinking human penises.

According to a new book by Dr. Shanna H. Swan, conditions in the modern world are quickly altering the reproductive development of humans and posing a threat to our future as a species.

The argument is laid out in her new book Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.

The book discusses how pollution is not only leading to skyrocketing erectile dysfunction rates and fertility decline, but also an expansion in the number of babies born with small penises.

While it may seem like good fodder for jokes, the research could portend a grim future for humanity’s ability to survive.

Swan co-authored a study in 2017 that found sperm counts had precipitously fallen in Western countries by 59 percent between 1973 and 2011. In her latest book, Swan blames chemicals for this crisis in the making.

“Chemicals in our environment and unhealthy lifestyle practices in our modern world are disrupting our hormonal balance, causing various degrees of reproductive havoc,” she wrote in the new book.

“In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35,” she also wrote, noting that men could have only half the sperm count of their grandfathers.

Swan blames the disruption on phthalates, the chemicals used in plastic manufacturing that also have an impact on how the crucial hormone endocrine is produced

However, experts note that the proper implementation of pollution reduction measures could help humanity prevent the collapse of human fertility.

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