Why we hold hands: Dr. James Coan at TEDxCharlottesville 2013

Dr. James Coan is Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology and Director of the Virginia Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Virginia. Dr. Coan’s work emphasizes the neuroscience of emotion and social relationships, and has been featured in Science, Nature, the New York Times, The Washington Post, Time Magazine, the New Yorker, The Atlantic, BBC News, Discovery Channel, New Scientist, Scientific American, CBS Sunday Morning, and other major media outlets. His work with John Gottman on behavior coding was featured in Malcolm Gladwell’s best-seller, Blink. In 2010, Dr. Coan received the inaugural Janet Taylor Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions from the Association for Psychological Science, and the Award for Distinguished Early Career Contributions from the Society for Psychophysiological Research. His talk today is entitled, “Why We Hold Hands.”

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

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  1. I think i broke up my relationship because i didnt physically touch him much and it felt weird.

    Women. Men NEED to be touched, kissed or whatever. It changes everything. You want a good relationship do it and force yourself to do it.

  2. This talk gives a whole new meaning to the time when my dad was dying at the hospital. He had a terminal cancer, I've been told that he would not make it to the night. To make it worse, none of my siblings or my mom were picking up the phone or reading my texts, so I could not ask anyone for support of any kind.

    I was devastated and didn't know what to do, so I just seated close to my dad, who was not able to talk anymore due to his disease. I held his hand between mine, telling him with my eyes how much Ioved him and that it was okay to let go. That I was there for him, to make sure he would not be alone. He lasted less than 2 minutes like that, and passed away in front of me. I know that he found the courage to leave this world only after he felt our hands joined.

    That's how I know what this guy found out is absolutely true.

    Love you dad, you'll always live in my heart

  3. The Bible states in Mark 10:8 "and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh." Very cool seeing new scientific studies affirming things written way before the technology was there to prove it.

  4. This is so interesting. I always hold someone's hand if I'm on a roller coaster that I think is scary. One time my friend refused to hold my hand on a ride (she was too scared to let go of the over-the-shoulder restraint). My experience on that ride was so traumatizing that to this day (6 years later) I refuse to go on that one ride at Knott's (Xcelerator). And holding on to the ride's restraint isn't enough, I always instinctively reach for whoever is sitting next to me, even if I don't know them, which can be awkward 😅

  5. That explains why I almost cried when a coworker I felt close to held my hand. I am in a city where I haven't made close friends and this has been the case for many years. So for that moment I felt connected for the first time in a long time.

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