Most of the “scientific studies” in the Daily Mail make me chuckle (new survey from a contact lens manufacturer says that 90% of people feel self-conscious about wearing glasses!) but this one — about low self-esteem, existential angst and stuffed animals — is worth serious consideration. First things first: research done at UV University Amsterdam found that people with low self-esteem are plagued with more disturbing existential angst (read: anxiety and depression) than the rest of the general population. (I’m well aware of this phenomenon.) Next revelation: connecting with other people, even through seemingly trivial instances of interpersonal touch (like, a light pat on the arm), can help, I’ll call them “highly sensitive individuals”, feel better about their existence. Finally, researchers found that snuggling a teddy bear was just as effective in providing comfort and reducing levels of anxiety around thoughts of death as human-to-human contact was.
“Our findings show that even touching an inanimate object — such as a teddy bear — can soothe existential fears. Interpersonal touch is such a powerful mechanism that even objects that simulate touch by another person may help to instill in people a sense of existential significance,” explained Sander Koole, the lead researcher on the study.
What does this mean for the depressed and anxious people of the world? A stuffed animal may actually help soothe you in your darkest moments. It doesn’t matter if you’ve technically outgrown them. But if you feel too embarrassed to break out your favorite stuffed dog, Ralph (oops! did I admit to that national internet?), scientists are working on creating a “haptic jacket,” which electronically simulates the feeling of being hugged. Yes, PLEASE. I’ll take one of those. [Daily Mail UK]
[Photo from Shutterstock]