Feeling as though we belong is important for our mental and physical wellbeing. Social exclusion hurts and it darkens our mood. Unfortunately, this sets up a vicious circle because we’re then less likely to engage in friendly, prosocial acts, and so less likely to form new bonds with others. A new study documents an effective way to break this cycle – excluded people should touch a teddy bear. Seriously.
People in the study were first set up to feel excluded (a bit nasty that) and then told to rate teddy bears either at a distance or by holding them. Afterward the participants were asked questions about sharing and volunteering. Those who’d held the teddy were more generous and open-hearted.
So at the next peace conference or economic summit, stuffies should be distributed. In the meantime I will take a note from my children, and make sure to spend a few minutes of stuffie holding time today. I have a fine collection, if smaller by some order of magnitude, than theirs.
Do you have a favourite stuffie? Mine is an elephant.