Why do we cuddle? Oct 2012

Friday, November 02, 2012 Rob 2 Comments

This month, we find out how the menstrual cycle influences competition and cooperation and why women’s sexual interest takes a nosedive after childbirth. We also ask the question: what’s the point of cuddling? Does it make us feel closer to our partner, or is it just a stepping stone to sex?

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"Ah, a nice cuddle. Cuddles are lovely. Not as lovely as sex, obviously..." Freestocks

The articles covered in the show:

van Anders, S. M., Edelstein, R. S., Wade, R. M., & Samples-Steele, C. R. (in press). Descriptive experiences and sexual vs. nurturant aspects of cuddling between adult romantic partners. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Read summary

Rupp, H. A., James, T. W., Ketterson, E. D., Sengelaub, D. R., Ditzen, B., & Heiman, J. R. (in press). Lower sexual interest in postpartum women: Relationship to amygdala activation and intranasal oxytocin. Hormones and Behavior. Read summary

Lucas, M., & Koff, E. (in press). How conception risk affects competition and cooperation with attractive women and men. Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary


  1. LOL, I really like your podcast and sense of humor. While I find the research fascinating, especially how arousal decreases for all things after birth, I think that there is a lot more to why women are not interested in sex after giving birth. I am a mother and had a terrible birth experience and have permanent nerve damage and chronic pelvic/pelvic floor pain. However, I will not go into it since you want to remain "blissfully ignorant" (LOL). Anyway, I think that sleep deprivation, whether your child sleeps through the night, and how you view your partners parenting skills all play into whether you would want to have sex with them. I think that if you do not view your partner as a competent and invested parent then they become less attractive in your mind as a mother and then as a women in general. Perhaps the part of the brain that you were speaking about takes all of that into affect, who knows. Anyway I have marked your site as a favorite and will probably peruse the archives. Also as cliche as it is, I got to say, I love the accent.

  2. Thanks, Jina. Yes, there are many ways of accounting for human behavior, and most studies will only investigate one or two possible reasons at a time. It's difficult to do anything else, as otherwise most experiments would be too complicated. Thanks for your comment, and I hope you find other episodes enjoyable.


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