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So I've been seeing a claim around a lot lately in various articles and "amazing fact" lists.

Positive Psychology News is one example:

after only 20 seconds of hugging a romantic partner, one can achieve a spike in oxytocin levels

They cite a TED talk

I can't seem to find the original source of the claim.

The closest I found was in this study referenced in the above article which states: (emphasis mine)

Couples were seated on a loveseat in a quiet room and instructed to sit close together, holding hands if they felt comfortable doing so. They were asked to talk about a time they had spent together that had made them feel closer as a couple (2 minutes). They then watched a 5-minute segment of a romantic video they had previously seen. They then were instructed to talk for 2 minutes about a time when they felt close as a couple. During this time, couples were unmonitored and unobserved except when the experimenter entered the room to give instructions. At the end of this session, partners stood for a 20-second hug.

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding, but that seems like the 20 second hug wasn't isolated as the cause alone. Have there been any other studies that suggest the 20 second time frame? Did I miss something in that one?

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What's the claim? If a couple hugs there's an Oxytocin spike? Or is the claim more general: If any two people hug there's an Oxytocin spike? –  Christian Oct 22 '12 at 23:05
@Christian I'd ask the same thing really, but one topic per question seems fairer. :P edit accidentally hit the post button there, but yeah, it seems to be only couples they've checked. –  Omnomnomnom Oct 22 '12 at 23:37
@Christian In terms of what I want answered I suppose I'll accept any answer really, of couples or strangers. Once it's been proven to happen. –  Omnomnomnom Oct 22 '12 at 23:43
The cited claim made is for romantic partners. Let's stick to that. –  Oddthinking Jan 19 '14 at 8:15
Browsing around, I found a lot of scientists upset at the exaggerated claims of Paul Zak in that TED Talk (and related publications). Haven't found any evidence for or against this claim though. –  Oddthinking Jan 19 '14 at 11:54

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