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Where in the World Do People Hug and Kiss the Most?

A new study investigated affectionate touch between partners in 37 countries.

Key points

  • Scientists assessed the association between the frequency of hugging, kissing, and other forms of affectionate touch and love in 37 countries.
  • People in Austria showed the most affectionate touch towards their partners.
  • There was a universal association across countries that more loving partners also touched more often.

When did you last hug or kiss someone?

Hugging, kissing, and other affectionate touch are important parts of romantic relationships, but people differ quite a bit in how much they hug and kiss their partners. A new study, now published in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports, focused on understanding the relationship between touch and love across different countries (Sorokowska et al., 2023). While we may assume that people who love their partners more also touch them more, cultural factors may strongly influence this association, making this kind of psychological research highly important.

A New Large-Scale Study on Love and Touch

In the study, the research team led by scientist Agnieszka Sorokowska conducted two different experiments. In the first experiment, data from 7,681 volunteers from 37 different countries were analyzed. Each volunteer was in a relationship. They filled out a questionnaire about how much they loved their partner and a second questionnaire about the role of affectionate touch in their relationship. The volunteers were shown pictures of embracing, stroking, kissing, and hugging in this questionnaire.

The participants were asked to indicate whether or not they performed each of these behaviors with their partner the week before participating in the experiment. This way, each volunteer got a percentage between 0 percent (none of the four behaviors), 25 percent (one of the four behaviors), 50 percent (two of the four behaviors), 75 percent (three of the four behaviors), and 100 percent (all four behaviors). By calculating the average value for all participants from one country, the scientists could determine the countries in which people showed the most and least affectionate touch to their partners.

In which countries did people show the most affectionate touch towards their partners?

The number one country was Austria (97.3), followed by Germany (96.8) and Cuba (95.8). The United States was at 91.3 points. The least affectionate touch toward their partners was shown by volunteers from China (52.8), The Netherlands (57.5), and Ukraine (58.6). The scientists also investigated whether the amount of affectionate touch someone shows towards their partners was associated with how much they loved them. A clear association was found. Across all countries, people who loved their partners also showed more types of affectionate touch towards their partner.

In the second experiment of the study, the scientists explored this association between love and touch in greater detail. In this part of the study, 199 volunteers from Poland filled out a more detailed questionnaire on touching in their romantic relationships, the so-called Affective Touch Survey. Compared to the first experiment, the volunteers were not only asked whether they showed affectionate touch towards their partner during the week before the experiment took place but also how many times they touched their partners.

How often did the participants touch their partners?

On average, volunteers touched their partners 3.36 times per hour. For embracing the average was 0.61 per hour, for stroking 0.67, for kissing 1.08, and for hugging 0.89. Volunteers differed quite a bit in much they hugged and kissed. For hugging, the range was between zero to 10 hugs per hour, and for kissing it was between zero and 20 kisses per hour. If you assume that someone sleeps around eight hours per 24-hour day that are 160 hugs and 320 kisses per day for these very romantic individuals.

Comparable to the first experiment, touch and love had a strong statistical association. People who loved their partners more also touched them more.

Loving Couples Touch More

So, while the study found large differences in the frequency of hugging and kissing between countries, the association between love and touch was universal. People who loved their partners showed higher levels of hugging, kissing, and other affectionate touches. So when you doubt whether you should give your partner a heartfelt hug, do it!


Sorokowska A, Kowal M, Saluja S, Aavik T, Alm C, Anjum A, Asao K, Batres C, Bensafia A, Bizumic B, Boussena M, Buss DM, Butovskaya M, Can S, Carrier A, Cetinkaya H, Conroy-Beam D, Cueto RM, Czub M, Dural S, Espinosa A, Esteves CS, Frackowiak T, Contreras-Garduño J, Guemaz F, Hromatko I, Iskra H, Jiang F, Kafetsios K, Kavcic T, Kervyn N, Köbis NC, Kostić A, Láng A, Lindholm T, Manesi Z, Meskó N, Misra G, Monaghan C, Natividade JC, Nizharadze G, Oberzaucher E, Oleszkiewicz A, Pagani AF, Pakalniskiene V, Parise M, Pejičić M, Pisanski A, Pisanski K, Popa C, Prokop P, Sargautyte R, Sharad S, Simonetti F, Sorokowski P, Stefanczyk MM, Szagdaj A, Tadinac M, González KU, Uhryn O, Vauclair CM, Yoo G, Zupančič M, Croy I. (2023). Love and affectionate touch toward romantic partners all over the world. Sci Rep, 13, 5497.

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