A touch-scaffolded model of human prosociality

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Abstract

For centuries, scholars have been puzzled by the distinct human prosociality. A variety of explanations have been proposed to unveil the mystery of it and nearly all these explanations have focused on the role of complex cognitive processes. In this paper, we propose a novel hypothesis that human prosociality is touch-scaffolded. We argue that early tactile stimulation such as maternal touch serves as the basic component that enables the emergence of nascent human prosociality. During this process, C-tactile afferents along with many neuropeptides, such as oxytocin and endogenous opioids, play pivotal roles in the touch – prosociality connection by facilitating the formation of an intimate caregiver-infant bond and the development of a positive social schema. Our model provides a different perspective on the development of human prosociality and builds a bridge between the human tactile system and high-level psychology – human prosociality.

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