There are lots of people out there who use hugs as a way to cheer themselves or others up. When you hug someone for twenty seconds or more, it triggers a release of the neurotransmitter oxytocin, which can help make the other person trust you a little more. While many people think oxytocin is a hormone, it is actually a neurotransmitter, acting within the brain to help it process information and feelings. Several surveys have been conducted to understand the role of this neurotransmitter in life especially in terms of faith, trust and morality, where it seems to play a role.
Oxytocin is released in the body when a person considers themselves to be secure, safe and connected to their loved ones. Through the release of this chemical, the brain knows that everything is safe and that there is no need to worry. To understand why this is, it might be necessary to take a look at other times when oxytocin is produced in the body: oxytocin is generally produced during breastfeeding, while receiving a hug or cuddling, engaging in dances or massages or even praying to your particular brand of deity. All of these acts, and more, trigger the release of oxytocin in the brain.
Image Credit:By mark sebastian (Flickr: Engagement (#48474)) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Human beings have always been considered to be social creatures; a person cannot live out their life without forming some kind of relationships with others. In this social existence, oxytocin helps us to build relationships and bonds with others by creating a positive experience in our interactions with others, thus further building a positive relationship in addition to feeling relaxed. Along with trust and faith, oxytocin also grants us the ability to feel compassion, forgiveness and any more. In simple terms, an increase in the level of oxytocin in our heads allows us to form positive connections with people we do not know.
Trust is not something that can be gained by giving people physical gifts; there can only be any degree of trust formed if a person is open, honest and, well, trustworthy. Hugging is one of the oldest and finest methods of building trust. All it takes is a 20 second hug to trigger the release of oxytocin and thus build a relationship. Scientists and researchers have confirmed that yes, a hug does indeed trigger a release of oxytocin and, yes, oxytocin is responsible for trust and positive relationships. And so, therefore, we can show that a hug can lead to trust. Boom, science!