Unexpected Ways Teddy Bear Can Make Your Life Better

A little boy sleeps peacefully as his brave little teddy bear stands over him battling a monster. The caption under the image reads "Teddy bears - protecting children from monsters under the bed since 1902"

This image perfectly illustrates our intimate relationship with our teddy bears. Even though they are cuddly soft toys, they are often seen as comforting and protective friends ready to do battle on our behalf which inevitably raises the question; in what unexpected ways can teddy bears make our lives better?

  • A new study suggests that touching an inanimate like a teddy bear may genuinely help people with low self esteem as it helps them connect with others.

Kenneth Tai and collaborators at the National University of Singapore ran subjects in groups of four and asked them to pick two of the other three to work with. Subjects received false feedback telling them either everyone had picked them or no one had picked them. Later they were asked to rate a consumer product—a teddy bear. Half of them were asked to hold the bear while evaluating it. Among the socially excluded subjects, those who touched the bear expressed more positive emotions at the end of the experiment than those who didn’t—about as many as both groups of socially included subjects.

Further, when given $10 and asked if they wanted to donate some anonymously to another subject, the excluded subjects gave more money if they had touched the bear. Their increased prosociality resulted from their better moods. (The experimenters did not, however, test the effects of bears deformed by evil.)

Given that isolation increases stress and cortisol production, and that petting dogs reduces blood pressure, the researchers suggest that touching a teddy bear might make you not just happier and nicer but healthier too. One more win for magical thinking. - Psychology Today

Michael Dankwah