Interpersonal touch has been little studied empirically as an indicator of parent- and peer-child intimacy. Undergraduate students (n = 390) were studied using a questionnaire survey regarding the frequencies of interpersonal touch by father, mother, same-sex peers, and opposite-sex peers during preschool ages, grades 1-3, grades 4-6, and grades 7-9, as well as their current attachment style to a romantic partner and current depression. A path model indicated that current depression was influenced significantly by poorer self- and other-images as well as by fewer parental interpersonal touches throughout childhood. Other-image was influenced by early (up to grade 3) parental interpersonal touch. Our findings suggest that a lower frequency of parental touching during childhood influences the development of depression and contributes to a poorer image of an individual's romantic partner during later adolescence and early adulthood.
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