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Why Cuddle Your Teddy?

Teddy bears and soft cuddly plush evoke the warmth of childhood.  They offer us comfort, they provide a willing ear for us to pour out our problems to, and they soothe the senses with a tactile touch.  From the beginning of time it would appear humans have had a soft cuddly toy.

This phenomenon has found its way into scientific enquiry with Winnicott (1953) noting the strong attachment babies and young children develop towards soft objects such as teddies and blankets.   A controversial experiment by Harlow (1958) revealed baby rhesus monkeys preferred the soft cloth ‘mother’ over and above the wire ‘mother’ who offered food.  Research by Tai and Zheng (2011) further supported the idea holding a teddy lessens the impact of exclusion whilst others (Erkolahti, R and Nystrom, M. (2009) find a strong correlation between depression in adolescence and the benefits of an object such as a soft toy.  And sometimes, be you child, adolescent or adult, it is simply the personal significance of the teddy which brings comfort or memories.

So Teddies do definitely provide benefits be they comfort, health or a fond memory and no matter what – they are always willing to give you a hug a day.



Andrew, Alexa. (2006).  The ethics of using dolls and soft toys in dementia care. Nursing and Residential Care, 8(9).419-421
Erkolahti, R and Nystrom, M. (2009). The prevalence of transitional object use in adolescence: is there a connection between the existence of a transitional object and depressive symptoms?  European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 18(7).  400-406
Tai, K., Zheng, X., and Narayanan, J. (2011). Touching a Teddy Bear Mitigates Negative Effects of Social Exclusion to Increase Prosocial Behavior. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2 (6), 618-626
Winnicott DW (1953) Transitional objects and transitional phenomena. Int J Psychoanal 34:89–96

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