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Two Key Reasons Why You Should Call Your Mom

Research finds that hearing your mom's voice has important benefits.

Key points

  • Hearing your mother's voice has the potential to reduce stress, research suggests.
  • When young girls spoke to their moms in person or by phone, oxytocin increased and cortisol decreased.
  • Texting did not provide the same benefits.
Nataliya Sdobnikova/Shutterstock
Source: Nataliya Sdobnikova/Shutterstock

You’ve had a crappy day. Maybe your boss yelled at you, you spilled your coffee, lost your keys, and forgot to pay a bill. When life stresses you out, sometimes you need your momma.

After all, how many times have you heard your mom say how nice it is to hear your voice? If it were up to mom, you would probably talk to her every single day. But research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggests that it may be you who benefits from hearing your mother’s voice (Seltzer, Prososki, Ziegler, & Pollak, 2012).

The researchers wanted to determine whether some forms of communication with mom were better than others. They looked at three types of communication (in person, by phone, or by instant message) to determine which was most beneficial. They were also interested in determining whether there was something uniquely valuable about hearing your mother’s voice.

Speaking to Mom After a Stressful Situation

The researchers had 68 young girls, ages 7.5 through 12 years old, experience a stressful situation that involved completing math and verbal problems for 15 minutes in front of an audience. (Just imagine for a moment having to count down backwards from a number like 7,648 by 9s within a time limit while standing in front of an interview panel and knowing that if you make a mistake you have to start over. Yikes! Stressful!)

Photo by Taylor Grote on Unsplash
When was the last time you called your mom? It's more beneficial to you than you might think.
Source: Photo by Taylor Grote on Unsplash

Next, the researchers randomly assigned the girls to do one of four things for another 15 minutes: (a) wait alone with no contact with mom, (b) talk to their moms in person, (c) talk to their moms via phone, or (d) interact with their moms via instant message. Afterwards, researchers measured the girls’ salivary cortisol (a stress hormone) and urinary oxytocin (a hormone linked to bonding, trust, and empathy) levels.

The Findings: Speaking Beats Texting

So which group fared the best? The two groups that were able to speak to their moms (either in person or over the phone) had higher oxytocin levels (a good thing) than did the instant message group and the no contact group. There was no difference in oxytocin levels between the in-person group and the phone group, which suggests that the benefits lie in hearing mom’s voice.

When girls messaged their moms, they had salivary cortisol levels that were similar to those who did not communicate with mom at all. That is, at least when it comes to lowering stress levels, communicating via text-based messages isn’t any better than not talking at all. Similar to the oxytocin findings, girls who spoke to their moms either in person or over the phone had the best stress response – they exhibited lower stress levels than both the instant message and no contact groups.

Overall, this study suggests that simply communicating with your mom isn’t enough. A text just isn't enough. Instead, hearing your mom’s voice has a uniquely soothing effect. So the next time you are stressed out by school, work, family, friends, or life…call your mother.

Facebook image: TeodorLazarev/Shutterstock


Seltzer, L. J., Prososki, A. R., Ziegler, T. E., & Pollak, S. D. (2012). Instant messages vs. speech: Hormones and why we still need to hear each other. Evolution And Human Behavior, 33(1), 42-45.

More from Gary W. Lewandowski Jr. Ph.D.
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