Former Vice President Joe Biden has always been a physically affectionate man, but recently that touching has become controversial. We turn to experts in social and personality psychology to help us understand what is going on.
Our experts suggested that at least seven different psychological processes may be at play:
1. Touch signals caring and support: The role of the need to belong
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You’re interviewing a stranger for a job, and while you have “the facts” about their previous job history in front of you, what you’re not sure about is their emotional state. Are they anxious? Excited? Bored?
Prosocial behaviors, such as willingness to help others, may be linked to specific personalities. Based on new research published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, agreeableness is one of the better predictors of prosocial behavior.
Empathy – defined broadly as the capacity to recognise, feel and/or react compassionately to others’ emotional states – has a tradition of being conceptualised positively. Manifold societal movements seek to encourage a culture of empathic concern, and a pervading “empathy deficit” was of a particular poignancy to the 44th President of the United States. In many ways, empathy is a positive social force. Psychologists have linked a greater propensity to empathise to a multitude of desirable outcomes including