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The Power of Touch for NBA Teams

Dr. Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology and the scientific adviser for Pixar's film Inside Out, claims that human touch is the "the foundations of human relationships." He explains, "Skin to skin, parent to child, touch is the social language of our social life … The foundation of all human relationship is touch. There are four years of touch exchanged between mother and baby … In the social realm, our social awareness is profoundly tactile."

Keltner was one of the co-authors for a study that looked at "celebratory touches" of pro basketball players, including "fist bumps, high-fives, chest bumps, leaping shoulder bumps, chest punches, head slaps, head grabs, low fives, high tens, full hugs, half hugs, and team huddles." The researchers discovered that teams who players touched one another a lot did better than those teams whose players didn't. Keltner has concluded that touch lowers stress, builds morale, and produces triumphs—a chest bump instructs us in cooperation, a half-hug in compassion.

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