Field studies have demonstrated that humans become more generous, helpful and compliant after having been touched by another person. Here, we explored whether these effects are larger for touch activating the C-tactile (CT) fibres, as it is ascribed a particular role in establishing and maintaining bonds and affiliative interactions. The role of CT-targeted and non-targeted touch on prosocial behaviour was investigated in three different experiments using a trust game and a task measuring individual differences in social value orientations (the SVO task). Whereas participants in general acted prosocially, there was no influence of CT-targeted touch on prosocial behaviour, both in comparison to non-CT-targeted control touch and visual (non-tactile) stimulation. The null findings were further corroborated by Bayesian statistics. Thus, under the controlled laboratory conditions employed, CT-targeted touch did not play a particular role in prosocial behaviour. This indicates that touch does not increase prosocial behaviour in the absence of meaningful social and psychological connotations. Any touch related effects on prosocial behaviour likely depends on the ecological validity of the situation.
Rosenberger, L. A., Ree, A., Eisenegger, C., & Sailer, U. (2018). Slow touch targeting CT-fibres does not increase prosocial behaviour in economic laboratory tasks. Scientific reports, 8(1), 7700.