Touch: Its Communicative Functions in Infancy

Matthew J. Hertenstein
2002 Human Development  
The communicative functions that the tactile modality serves in infancy have been severely neglected by researchers. The present article highlights the importance of touch by addressing two questions. First, what is communicated to infants by touch from their caregivers? In addition to the common notion that touch regulates arousal levels, it is argued that touch is capable of communicating valenced and discrete emotions as well as specific information. Second, how does meaning come about from
more » ... he touch that adults administer to infants? This question is addressed by discussing specific qualities and parameters of touch and three mechanisms by which infants gain meaning from touch. Empirical evidence is provided and hypotheses are made regarding each of these questions. Furthermore, a preliminary model of tactile communication is presented based upon the literature on touch, as well as the conceptual framework outlined in the article.
doi:10.1159/000048154 fatcat:e7tse5qtbjagjpttwpc3zugqbe