Affection exchange theory (AET) was articulated by communication scholar Kory Floyd. As the first comprehensive theory of affectionate communication, AET identifies the origins of affectionate behavior, accounts for variation in interpretations of it, and explains its health benefits. This entry defines affectionate communication, describes the propositions of AET, and details the principal connections between affectionate communication, health, and wellness.

Affectionate communication includes the verbal (“I love you,” “You mean so much to me”) and nonverbal (hugging, kissing) behaviors and the supportive activities (doing favors for someone) through which people form and maintain close relationships. AET asserts that, as an adaptive behavior, affection communication contributes to health and wellness by moderating the physiological processes associated with stress management and recovery.

Five Propositions

AET assumes the Darwinian claim that survival ...

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