Holding hands is an act as common as they come. Pop stars sing about it, animals embrace it and scientists continue to study it, according to Elite Daily’s Lydia Mansel. Even people 700 years ago did it.
But according to a 2013 study published in Current Psychology, how you and your partner hold hands can reflect how you both see the relationship.
The study said about 90 percent of men put their hand on top of their spouse’s hand, much in the same way an adult puts their hand on top of a child’s hand, which implies to the public that the man is more dominant in the relationship. A 1999 study from Perpetual and Motor Skills said this is a more traditional way of holding hands.
“The insides of the two hands are pressed together, in mutual embrace as it were, but the outside of the male’s hand typically faces the oncoming world, where as the outside of the female’s hand merely follows in the wake of protections,” sociologist Erving Goffman wrote in his book, “Relations in Public.”
Women, though, will take the overhand spot once they have children and carry more responsibilities, which makes the public see them as the more dominant partner, the study found. Women will often put their hand on top when holding a child’s hand, too, according to the Current Psychology study.
When men and women split the responsibility of putting their hand on top, there’s more equality in the relationship, the Current Psychology study said.
Holding hands in any form has been known to reduce stress, according to a study published by Psychological Science. The study found anxiety levels die down for people in times of trauma when their significant other holds their hands.
Researchers said applying a little pressure when holding hands can calm pain and anxiety, specifically when the area between your thumb and your forefinger is squeezed, according to The Wall Street Journal’s Laura Johannes.