The Science Behind Bear Hugs

I love giving big bear hugs. And who doesn’t love getting them? According to Build-a-Bear Workshop®, last Tuesday, November 7th was #HugABearDay. Whether it’s a bear, cat, dog, or anything else, there is no denying that hugging your favorite cuddly critter is one of the best and quickest ways to feel happy. Naturally, as any curious bear would do, I wondered just what made bear hugs so special. And thanks to some researching on the Internet, I’ve come to understand a bit more behind the science that makes these hugs so beary special.

Kids love teddy bears! And what can I say, we are pretty cute! Psychologists (that’s a fancy-schmancy word for someone who studies people and how they think) refer to us as “transitional objects” because we are known to help transition kids from being dependent on their moms and dads to making friends of their own and doing things all by themselves. Studies suggest 60-70% of kids in both the U.S. and U.K. have a transitional object they’ve become attached to, and this attachment is typically strongest around age three. We’re the pals that are always there to cheer you on! Plus, we are perfect listeners, which helps babies who are learning to talk, or even kids who just need an ear to lend. This is when people are most likely to anthropomorphize us. That means someone gives us a name, voice, and personality. Like ME! This makes us both a friend and learning tool. When we aren’t around, this play time is what makes our kids so sociable with others!

Of course, the science doesn’t stop when people become grown-ups, like my girl, Brookie. In fact, there is no known link to owning a furry friend and one’s physiological immaturity. Hugging a teddy bear is proven to reduce stress levels and even helps to cure some depression. People who have been through horrible life events are given teddy bears in therapy to help them smile and feel okay. We can even help you sleep better if you toss and turn at night! Approximately 40% of U.S. grown-ups admit to still having their teddy bears with millennials being the highest group. Even as many as 29% of grown men are known to have a travel buddy when they go on business trips… I guess the rest just weren’t brave enough to admit it!

No matter your age, our teddy bear hugs are so beary important! Touch is a very important sense, and that makes our soft, plush fur comforting. Even the smell of our fur can bring back pleasant memories of home and fun adventures. A drug called Ocytocin is released in your brain and boosts positive emotions! There is nothing better than a big bear hug! And since science is everywhere, it’s so easy to notice, wonder, and ask even more questions about the world with your furry lab assistant. So the next time you feel down, ask your teddy for a big bear hug! You’ll never know what good it can do! Make sure to share all of your scientific research and huggable moments with me in the comments!




Citation (That means giving credit to the people who wrote all the articles that helped me find my scientific answers):

  • Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc. (2017, Sept 5). National Teddy Bear Day Survey. Retrieved from
  • Loggins, B. (2017, Oct 6). Still Sleeping With A Stuffed Animal As An Adult.
  • Gjersoe, N. (2015, Feb 13). Why It’s Still Okay To Sleep With Your Teddy.
  • MacDonald, E. (?). The Science Behind The Teddy Bear.
  • Rodriguez, T. (2013, Jan 1). Owning Teddy Bears Does Not Reflect Immaturity.


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