We're Hardwired to Lean to the Right When We Kiss

Fagjun | Published 2017-07-20 09:04


Here's an interesting thing about humans: most of us lean to our right when we kiss someone. If you lean to your left when you kiss—well, you may be just a tad weird.


Of course, one question you may have is “so what?” So what if we lean right when we kiss? This may be a diminutive thing—useless, even—to study. However, these findings may actually have ramifications in further studies on neuroscience and cognition. The findings also remind us that fundamentally, under the layers of geographical, historical, cultural, political, and social differences, humans are humans.


This new study builds on previous work on the same subject matter, but with a significant differences. This time, researchers studied couples from a non-western background and covered kissing in a non-western context. This shows that leaning to right when kissing isn't cultural, but probably hardwired into humans in general.


Kissing in Private and in Public

Couples in Bangladesh don't kiss in public, which is a significant dimenstion in the study.


Researchers sought to study kissing in a non-western context in Bangladesh, where displays of affection don't commonly happen in public. Thus, the researchers asked 48 married couples to kiss in private. Each partner then had to go into different rooms where they wrote up their own reports on the kiss.


According to the findings, two-thirds of the participants, whether they were kiss initiators or kiss receptors, leaned to the right when they kissed. The study also found that, at 79%, men were the ones who initiated kisses more.


Interestingly, handedness may also play a role in which way we lean when we kiss—but only if we initiated the kiss. Kiss recipients also leaned right when the initiator leaned right, and left when the initiator leaned left. Participants reported that “mirroring” heads made them uncomfortable.


Let's go back to how people don't kiss in public in Bangladesh. This actual has significant ramifications. Since local television shows and films also don't show kissing, there's no media influence to account for. It's also likely that Western influences did not impact the way the participants kissed. Previous studies have involved couples that kissed in public places, and were also unable to discount cultural influences.


Thus, the similarity between these findings and those in previous western-based studies shows that the way we kiss may be hardwired into us.


Fundamental Human Similarities

Does handedness also have something to with the direction in which we lean when we kiss?


Head-turning is one of the earliest biases seen in development,” says lead author Dr. Rezaul Karim. “[E]ven in the womb a preference for turning the head to the right is observable before that of favoring the right hand or foot. Whether this fundamental bias is innate and extends into adulthood is a lingering question for neuroscience and psychology.”


The study shows that though humans have a lot of social and cultural differences, some behaviors can be similar across all these differences. It's also possible that our brains influence the way we lean when we kiss in the same way that they influence handedness. The left side of the brain, which is in charge of emotions and decision-making, may have something to with why most of us lean to the right when we kiss.

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