Relational and Health Correlates of Affection Deprivation

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64 Scopus citations


This article articulates the construct of affection deprivation, the condition of wanting more tactile affectionate communication than one receives. Individual- and group-level variance on the construct is investigated and its social and health correlates are identified in a survey of 509 adults from all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 16 foreign countries. Affection deprivation shows no correlation with age and no relationship with ethnicity, but men report significantly higher average affection deprivation than women. Moreover, as affection exchange theory predicts, affection deprivation shows positive linear associations with loneliness, depression, stress, alexithymia, preoccupied and fearful avoidant attachment styles, and numbers of personality disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, and secondary immune disorders. Affection deprivation shows negative linear associations with general health, happiness, social support, relationship satisfaction, and attachment security. These findings support the claims of affection exchange theory that the provision and receipt of affection contribute to health and wellness in both mental and physical ways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-403
Number of pages21
JournalWestern Journal of Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Affection Deprivation
  • Affection Exchange Theory
  • Health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


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