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Children’s vicarious ratings of social touch are tuned to the velocity but not the location of a caress.

Haggarty, Connor and Trotter, Paula and McGlone, Francis and Walker, Susannah (2021) Children’s vicarious ratings of social touch are tuned to the velocity but not the location of a caress. [Data Collection]

Abstract

Affective sharing is a bottom-up process involving automatic processing of sensory inputs that facilitate vicarious experience of another’s emotional state. It is grounded directly in the prior experiences of the perceiver. In adults, vicarious ratings of affective touch match the known velocity tuning and hypothesised anatomical distribution of C-tactile afferents (CT), a subclass of C-fibre which respond preferentially to low force/velocity stroking touch, typically perceived as pleasant. Given the centrality of touch to early nurturing interactions, here we examined whether primary school aged children’s vicarious ratings of affective touch show the same anatomical and velocity specific patterns reported in adults. Forty-four children aged between 8 and 11 (mean age 9, 24 male) rated a sequence of video clips depicting one individual being touched by another on 5 different upper-body sites (palm, dorsal forearm, ventral forearm, upper-arm and back) at 3 different velocities (static, CT optimal, slow stroking and non-CT optimal, fast stroking). Immediately after viewing each clip, participants were asked to rate how pleasant they perceived the touch to be. While children rated the CT optimal velocity significantly higher than static or non-CT optimal touch, unlike adults their ratings did not vary across skin sites. This difference may reflect the fact children’s ratings are grounded in bottom-up affective resonance while adults also draw on top-down cognitive evaluation of the broader social context when rating the stimuli.

Creators: Haggarty, Connor and Trotter, Paula and McGlone, Francis and Walker, Susannah
Uncontrolled Keywords: Touch; Affect; C-Tactile; Social; Development; Empathy
DOI: https://doi.org/10.24377/LJMU.d.00000091
Division: Psychology (new Sep 2019)
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2021 18:01
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2021 08:07
Related resources:
URI: http://opendata.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/91

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