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January 1976

The Wish To Be Held: A Transcultural Study

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tenn.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1976;33(1):41-43. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1976.01770010025004

• In a previous study, it was noted that "a strong desire to be held or cuddled correlated with a general leaning toward openness in emotional expression." As is well known, some cultures foster openness, while others do not. This project was designed to assess the influence of cultural attitudes on the wish to be held. To do so, questionnaires were given to five groups of Asian women living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The most striking differences found were between two groups of Chinese women, one Chinese-educated, and the other, English-educated. The Chinese-educated group inhibited the expression of sensual needs. An English education overturned the traditional mode of response; women in this group scored highest in their wish to be held and lowest in their inclination to keep their body-contact desires secret. This study demonstrates that cultural as well as psychological forces exert a profound influence on the wish to be held.