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Mom Can Give Comfort Even Miles Away

Posted Jun 26 2010 7:00am

Feeling blue? Stressed out about your health? Worried about lab results coming up? If you have a mom or someone who you admire as a mother figure in your life, pick up the phone and give her a call.

Leslie Seltzer who is a biological anthropologist, did research with a group of seven- to 12-year-old girls giving them a series of questions that caused anxiety. Once he had them stressed out (nice, huh?) a third of the girls were given comfort by their mothers in person; this included hugs or a warm arm around the girl’s shoulder. Another third of the girls were left to watch an “emotion-neutral 75-minute video.” And the last third were given a telephone with her mother on the line.

Surprisingly the findings were that “The children who got to interact with their mothers had virtually the same hormonal response, whether they interacted in person or over the phone,” Seltzer says. And the calm feelings lasted much longer than expected.

Pollak admits, “For years I’ve seen students leaving exams and the first thing they do is pull out their cell phone and make a call,” Pollak says. “I used to think, ‘How could those over-attentive, helicopter parents encourage that?’ But now? Maybe it’s a quick and dirty way to feel better. It’s not pop psychology or psychobabble.”

“It’s hard to get cortisol up. It’s hard to get oxytocin up,” he says. “That a simple telephone call could have this physiological effect on oxytocin is really exciting.”

Source: Seth Pollak
University of Wisconsin-Madison

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