Extravagant Affection

In 2010, researchers at Duke University Medical School did a study with babies and mothers and coined the term “extravagant” affection to describe the quality of a handful of their relationships.

The psychologists rated the mother’s affection and attention on a five-point scale ranging from negative to extravagant and followed 500 people, including infants until they were in their 30s. Nearly 10 percent of the mothers showed low levels of affection, 85 percent demonstrated a normal amount of affection, and six percent showed high—aka extravagant— levels of affection.

The adults whose mothers showed extravagant affection were much less likely than the others to feel stressed and anxious and were happier and more resilient. They were also less likely to report hostility, distressing social interactions, and psychosomatic symptoms.

Then in 2015, Darcia Navarez, a Notre Dame psychology professor did research on more than 600 adults and discovered that children who receive unconditional affection from their parents are–surprise surprise–happier as adults. Those who reported less affection struggled with mental health, tended to be more upset in social situations, and were less able to relate to other people’s perspectives.

“These things independently, but also added up together, predicted the adults’ mental health, so they were less depressed, less anxious, and their social capacities — they were more able to take other people’s perspective. They were better at getting along with others and being open-hearted,” Navarez said.

More kisses and cuddles for baby? Done! But what about for you?

Regardless of the experience you had as a child, you can choose to “parent” yourself in a way that serves your adult self now. It's part of a healthy receiving practice. When you practice receiving you increase your flow of abundance, love and joy.

What would it be like for you to treat yourself with extravagant affection? I'd love to hear the qualities that define it for you? We've got a thread on Facebook.