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Whitehouse made the decision, influenced by this finding, to investigate the possibility that people’s responses to us might also be altered by their displays of stress, perhaps through an empathic response.

Touching our face and hair, twisting our mouths, licking our lips, and biting our nails are just a few of the subtle behaviors associated with anxiety that humans exhibit in addition to the skin scratching seen in other primates.

All of these behaviors have the potential to convey a sense of vulnerability and elicit a warmer response from other people.

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