National Kissing Day: What’s in a kiss?


Over 90% of cultures use kissing as a display of affection in romantic and sexual relationships. We know that everyone does it, but have you ever stopped to wonder why they do it, and what constitutes a great kiss?

In an attempt to get to the bottom of why kissing can be really great, Susan Hughes studied 1,041 students at Albright College in Pennsylvania. She asked them about their kissing styles and preferences, which lead to some really fascinating findings:

•    Both men and women say they have kissed the same number of people in their lives – average number is 14
•    Women choose to kiss men by looking at their teeth, men’s choices are based on perceived facial attraction
•    Apparently, kissing is more important before sex than after
•    50% of men would sleep with their partner without kissing them first, compared with only 10% of women
•    Kissing is much more important to women as part of the sexual experience than men
•    Men are over twice as likely as women to have sex with a bad kisser
•    Both men and women prefer kissing with more tongue when with long-term partners
•    …but overall men prefer wetter kisses with more tongue
•    66% of women and 59% of men have been put off a potential partner by their kissing

The conclusion of the study was that men use kissing to get sex and resolve arguments, whereas women use is as a way of testing a potential mate and monitoring an ongoing relationship. While we don’t quite know how kissing has developed over time, we do know that it clearly plays an important role in the health and wellbeing of romantic relationships.

Hughes, S.M., Harrison, M.A., and Gallup, G.G. Jr. (2007) Sex differences in romantic kissing among college students: An evolutionary perspective. Evolutionary Psychology 2007. 5(3): 612-631

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