Date of Award

5-2021

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Communication, M.A.

Department

Communication Studies

First Advisor

Jenette Lovejoy

LC Subjects

COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020- ; Epidemics--Social aspects; Touch--Social aspects

Abstract

The Coronavirus pandemic presents a unique and unavoidable context to study haptic communication because of the ways that individuals have adapted to this new reality and how haptic, or touch, behaviors pose health and safety concerns. Touch has major benefits that influence individuals in physiological and psychological ways (e.g. increased self-value and relationship quality) that are felt both immediately and well into their future. At a time when touch seems most needed yet discouraged, there is concern that the lack of touch will cause both physiological and psychological impairments as the literature shows. This makes this time, specifically, a crucial moment and calls us to expand haptic communication research on the effects of the lack of touch and its influence on an individual’s well-being and communicative ability. Therefore, guided by the discouraged nature and new hypersensitivity of touch, this study aims to establish an understanding of the ways touch has changed within a novel context, learn how individuals are fulfilling their need for connection, and interpret how they have been navigating the “lack of touch” reality of a global pandemic. Results showed that the use of touch had experienced significant change based on a new negative perception of the form of communication, heightened awareness of comfortability and interaction partners, and spurred the development of both successful and unsuccessful compensating connective behaviors.

Comments

CST 599: Thesis

Copyright retained by the author.

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