Mother's Voice As Good As a Hug

MADISON, Wis., May 13 (UPI) — U.S. researchers confirm calling mom reduces stress.

Biological anthropologist Leslie Seltzer and psychology professor Seth Pollak, both of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, tested the stress levels of a group of girls ages 7-12 by requiring them to deliver an impromptu speech and do a series of math problems in front of strangers.


“Facing a challenge like that, being evaluated, raises stress levels for a lot of people,” Pollak said in a statement.

Once stressed, one-third of the girls were comforted with a hug by their mothers, one-third watched an emotion-neutral 75-minute video and one-third were handed a telephone with their mother on the line.

“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.

The levels of oxytocin — the “love hormone” strongly associated with emotional bonding — rose significantly and the stress-marking cortisol disappeared, the study found.

The findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, might explain why many college students call their mothers as soon as they hand in an exam.

“I used to think, ‘How could those over-attentive, helicopter parents encourage that?’ Maybe it’s a quick and dirty way to feel better. It’s not pop psychology or psychobabble,” Pollak said.

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