For years I have been studying the implications of (dis)honest affectionate communication. Adding to affection research, Dr. Kory Floyd recently examined the idea of not receiving enough affection. I summarized that study here.

His latest research further explored this idea, examining relationships among affection deprivation and health qualities. He explained that affection deprivation occurs when one receives “less affectionate communication than one desires” (p. 381). He examined this deprivation in conjunction with reports of physical pain and sleep quality.

Across three studies, Floyd revealed that individuals’ reports of affection deprivation were directly related to their reports of physical pain. In addition, Floyd found that individuals who reported higher levels of affection deprivation also reported diminished sleep quality.

In summarizing his findings, he reasons: “Affection exchange theory suggests that creating affection deprivation would lead to deficits in wellness and impede optimal functioning. It is also plausible that the experiences of physical pain or poor quality sleep could also inhibit affection exchange with others” (p. 392-393).

This research, which adds to the growing body of affection exchange theory research, further delineates not only the benefits of affection, but also the risks of affectionate deficits. Consistent with research revealing the physical benefits of kissing, this research suggests that increases in affection might combat negative physiological experiences.

Dr. Sean M. Horan is a Communication professor. Follow him on Twitter @TheRealDrSean. His expertise is communication across relationships, with topics including deception, affection, workplace romance, sexual risk/safety, attraction, deceptive affection, and initial impressions. His work/commentary has appeared on CNN, ABC, Fox, The Wall Street Journal, and more.


Floyd, K. (2016). Affection deprivation is associated with physical pain and poor sleep quality. Communication Studies, 67, 379-398. doi: 10.1080/10510974.2016.1205641

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