Affective Touch and Human Grooming Behaviours: Feeling Good and Looking Good

  • Francis McGloneEmail author
  • Susannah Walker
  • Rochelle Ackerley


Grooming behaviours, whether directed at the self or at others, are ubiquitous within the animal kingdom—from bees to bonobos. Having evolved for hygienic purposes, it is in primates that grooming behaviours supersede their original role to one in which there is a clear social element: nurture, control of dominance relationships, facilitating group cohesion, etc. In humans, grooming has been seen traditionally as providing a functional, plus an aesthetic, benefit—we keep clean and we look good. However, there may be another factor driving these impulses to groom ourselves: one which is less overt and a consequence of grooming that actually makes us feel good as well. It is axiomatic that grooming involves touching and, as the previous chapters in this book have described, there exists in the skin of the body a population of unmyelinated mechanosensory nerves that respond optimally to precisely the kinds of touch that typify many grooming behaviours—gentle moving touch.


Pleasant Touch Cosmetic Industry Neuroethology Grooming Behaviour Primate 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francis McGlone
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Susannah Walker
    • 1
  • Rochelle Ackerley
    • 3
  1. 1.Research Centre for Brain & Behaviour, School of Natural Sciences & Psychology, Liverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK
  2. 2.Institute of Psychology, Health & Society, University of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK
  3. 3.Department of PhysiologyUniversity of GothenburgGöteborgSweden

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