International Hugging Day

International Hugging Day

To mark International Hugging Day and inspired by the famous 'Duggee Hug' at the end of each episode of Hey Duggee - the BAFTA award-winning pre-school show - CBeebies Australia has commissioned research* into the hugging habits of Australians. The results of a survey of over 500 Australians reveal that Aussies love a hug, giving on average six hugs per day, with 86% of us either giving or receiving one every day. Our favourite thing about hugging is that it shows affection and increases bonding (31%), followed by an increased feeling of happiness (15%).

These findings align with research into the benefits of hugging. As the University of New South Wales (UNSW) social psychologist Dr Lisa A Williams points out, "Hugs can happen in positive contexts – while greeting, celebrating an achievement, or simply enjoying the presence of a loved one – but they can also occur in negative contexts when support is needed. The physical and mental benefits of hugging across both positive and negative contexts are well-documented. For example, individuals who receive more hugs are less likely to catch the common cold and experience interpersonal conflict as less acute. More generally, their relationships overall are happier."

So who is doing all the hugging? Families and couples are doing the lion's share particularly those aged 25-44. Women give on average 4.7 hugs a day and receive 3.9, with men not far behind giving 3.4 a day and getting back an average of 3. People aged 66-75 are hugging the least, giving and receiving on average two per day, followed closely by single-income individuals with no kids, who recorded similar results but these groups make up for it by dishing out hugs to their pets. We think our children (37%) and partners (37%) give the best hugs, followed by our parents (9%).

At family gatherings, men (47%) and women (49%) agree a hug is the preferred greeting, with a kiss on the cheek also popular (34%) particularly among the older generation. In social settings, men are much less likely to engage in a hug when meeting up with a mate (22%) preferring a handshake (53%). Woman, however, like to hug it out with their friends (53%), with a kiss on the cheek the next most popular greeting among females (28%). Embracing our friends is not so popular with the older generation, with only 24% of people 66-75 saying they hug their friends compared with 53% of people 18-24 and 55% of people 25-34.

Unsurprisingly parents and children give and receive the most hugs with 79% of parents hugging their children every day and receiving a similar number back (78%). Hugging of children is incredibly common but the number of hugs drops once the kids hit their teenage years. Pre-schoolers are receiving the most hugs, getting on average 8.4 per day although 85% of parents still give their teenagers at least one hug per day. Children between 2.5 - 3.5 years old are the most affectionate, giving their parents 7.7 hugs per day, while kids aged 13-17 are the least affectionate offering their parents only 2.9 hugs a day.

As a nation of pet owners, we love to hug our furry friends. 89% of dog owners and 87% of cat owners reveal they hug their pets, with singles and parents of older kids doing the most, suggesting pets are a substitute for people not getting their hugs elsewhere. Hugging our pets makes us feel loved, content and warm. Along with pets, over 44% of us admitted to hugging a soft toy for comfort, primarily women and people 18-24 (69%).

No matter who is involved in the hug, the benefits are robust. According to Dr Williams, "Physiologically, hugs produce improved cardiovascular functioning and promote the release of oxytocin, a hormone that has been implicated in the development of bonding and trust. Psychologically, hugs also indicate that the relationship is characterised by closeness and concern."

Australians would most like to hug Chris Hemsworth and Hugh Jackman (women) and Elle Macpherson and Margot Robbie (men) but both genders agreed Malcolm Turnbull is most in need of a hug followed by Kyle Sandilands.

The Notebook, Titanic, Ghost, Love Actually and 90s sitcom Friends offered some of Australia's favourite onscreen hugs.

Top ten celebrities Australians would most like to hug:
1. Chris Hemsworth
2. Hugh Jackman
3. Margot Robbie
4. Nicole Kidman
5. Kylie Minogue
6. Miranda Kerr
7. Carrie Bickmore
8. Elle Macpherson
9. Liam Hemsworth
10. Sophie Monk

Top five celebrities we feel are in need of a good hug:
1. Malcolm Turnbull
2. Kyle Sandilands
3. Russell Crowe
4. Karl Stefanovic
5. Sophie Monk

Top ten celebrities Australian men would most like to hug:
1. Elle Macpherson
2. Margot Robbie
3. Nicole Kidman
4. Kylie Minogue
5. Miranda Kerr
6. Sophie Monk
7. Carrie Bickmore
8. Samantha Armytage
9. Cate Blanchett
10. Hugh Jackman

Top ten celebrities Australian women would most like to hug:
1. Chris Hemsworth
2. Hugh Jackman
3. Liam Hemsworth
4. Dr Chris Brown
5. Margot Robbie
6. Carrie Bickmore
7. Nicole Kidman
8. Grant Denyer
9. Eric Bana
10. Kylie Minogue

Hey Duggee is a show that knows the benefits of a good hug. Each episode ends with a #DuggeeHug – where all the animals from The Squirrel Club come together with their teacher, the loveable canine hero Duggee, for a warm embrace before being picked up by their parents.

"While most hugs are three seconds long, there is evidence that longer hugs provide more benefit," says Dr Williams. So – when you do seek out an embrace, make it count!

Hey Duggee can be seen on CBeebies Australia (available on Foxtel and Fetch) weekdays at 4.40pm and is also available on the Foxtel Kids App. Brand new episodes of Hey Duggee will air on CBeebies from Monday 4th March at 4.40pm.

Hey Duggee products including plush, toys and infants apparel are available at Big W with new product lines set to hit the market in 2019.