Feb
06
2008

The big kiss off: Pucker up for the science behind our signs of affection

Sweet idea: We like kisses, but why? Science has some answers
Sweet idea: We like kisses, but why? Science has some answersCourtesy Bob.Fornal
What do you get when you cross Scientific American and Cosmopolitan magazines?

You get the most comprehensive article I’ve ever seen on the science at play when we kiss.

So if you’re still looking for that new twist to your Valentine’s Day plans, pull up a computer screen together with your honey and find out what makes a kiss so special. The full, deep story is available here for your enjoyment. If you’re looking for less commitment, below are some quick pecks of information.

• Evolutionary roots: Cheap romance novels may take about the hunger for a kiss, but biologists think that there are strong evolutionary roots to the process of kissing. They trace it back to actions we still see in chimps, where mothers will pre-chew food for their young and pass them on to the little ones lip-to-lip. In humans over time, pressing lips together may have become a way to comfort troubled children and eventually express love and affection.

• Kissing chemistry: It’s still being debated if humans react to pheromones, which are silent chemical communication devices that animals produce. But if we do, kissing would be a highly efficient way to pass pheromones from one person to another. What’s still not known is if we have pheromone receptors in our nose or mouth area.

Match making: One study says that a first kiss can play a big role on if a relationship leads to life-long love.
Match making: One study says that a first kiss can play a big role on if a relationship leads to life-long love.Courtesy WTL photos
• More chemistry: Our lips have the thinnest layer of skin of any part of our body. Along with that, they are packed with more neurons than any other part of our body. That combination makes for a very sensitive area for shooting feelings back and forth to our brains. Also, kissing activates chemicals in our brains associated with pleasure, euphoria and connection. Researchers have seen spikes in brain activity while monitoring people electronically while viewing images of people they love.

• Mate selection: A first kiss can be a make-or-break encounter. In a recent Gallup Poll, around 60 percent of men and women report losing attraction to someone of the opposite sex after a non-satisfactory first kiss. The study went on to say that females will use a kiss to judge the level of commitment from a male, is he someone who will help them raise any young ones they may conceive.

• Kissing trivia: A German researcher found that couples are twice as likely to tilt their heads to the right, rather than left, when kissing. He chalks it up the predominance of right-handedness.

Ten percent of the human cultures on Earth do not kiss.

The scientific term for kissing is osculation.

So, what I really want to know is what kind of lab situations to they have to test out all these kissing theories and how can I get a job there?

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