“Never go to bed angry.” It’s a solid piece of advice you’ve heard from films, TV shows and likely your own mother. But that’s much easier said than done because when you’re in the middle of a heated argument, tempers flare, egos inflate and no one wants to admit they’re wrong. So the simplest next step is usually taking some time apart (either physically or from the topic at hand) and sleeping on it.
According to science, though, it’s much simpler than this. A new study published in PLOS One on Oct. 3 suggests the best way to end an argument is to hug each other. Yep, it’s as simple as that, folks: hugging.
Authors Michael L. M. Murphy, Denise Janicki-Deverts and Sheldon Cohen interviewed over 400 adults between the ages of 18 and 55, and of those 404 participants, 306 of them were unmarried and 98 were married. These adults were interviewed every night for 14 consecutive days about their conflicts, how often they hugged and whether the act of hugging had a positive or negative affect.
In the end, it was determined that those who were hugged experienced an increase in positive mood markers and a decrease in negative mood markers.
“Enthusiasm for this topic is bolstered by multiple lines of converging evidence suggesting that individuals who engage more frequently in interpersonal touch enjoy better physical, psychological, and relational health,” the authors write.
Interpersonal touch is defined in the study as touch behaviors, such as hugging and holding hands, used to communicate affection or generally thought to indicate affection.
The study also found that associations between getting a hug and how it affected a couple’s conflict did not differ between women and men, nor did it differ “between individuals who were married or in a marital-like relationship and those who were not.”
So, the next time you want a squash an argument with your S.O., hug it out — because science says so.