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Investigating osculatory laterality
compiled by Alice Shirrell Kaswell, Improbable Research staff
Kissing is sometimes a matter of choosing sides. There is mystery as to which side, when, and why (if there is a why). These studies come at the matter from various directions.
Laterality in Cheek Kissing in France
“Can Population-Level Laterality Stem from Social Pressures? Evidence from Cheek Kissing in Humans,” Amandine Chapelain, Pauline Pimbert, Lydiane Aube, Océane Perrocheau, Gilles Debunne, Alain Bellido, and Catherine Blois-Heulin, PLoS ONE, vol. 10, no. 8, 2015, e0124477. (Thanks to Neil Martin for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at the Université de Rennes, France, report:
We showed that: a) there is a population-level laterality for cheek kissing, with the majority of individuals being aligned in each city, and b) there is a variation between populations, with a laterality that depends on the city.
Detail from the study “Can Population-Level Laterality Stem from Social Pressures? Evidence from Cheek Kissing in Humans.”
Kissing Direction: Kin or Not
“Family Matters: Directionality of Turning Bias While Kissing is Modulated by Context,” Jennifer R. Sedgewicka and Lorin J. Eliasa, Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition, epub January 16, 2016. (Thanks to Colin Hintz for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, explain:
The primary purpose of our study was to investigate if turning direction was consistent between a romantic (parent–parent) and parental (parent–child) kissing context, and secondly, to examine if sex differences influenced turning bias between parent–child kissing partners.... The results indicated that the direction of turning bias differed between kissing contexts. As expected, a right-turn bias was observed for romantic kissing; however, a left-turn bias was exhibited for parental kissing. There was no significant difference of turning bias between any parent–child kissing partners.
Detail from the study “Family Matters: Directionality of Turning Bias While Kissing is Modulated by Context.”
Taking Sides on Kissing
“Kissing Laterality and Handedness,” Dianne Barrett, Julian Greenwood, and John F. McCullagh, Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition, vol. 11, no. 6, 2006, pp. 573- 579. The authors, at Stranmillis University College, Belfast, UK, report:
Kissing behaviour was observed between kissing couples: about 80% turned their heads to the right to kiss. To remove the influence of one kissing partner upon the other, kissing behaviour was also observed between participants and a symmetrical doll’s face: about 77% turned their heads to the right to kiss. There was no significant difference in handedness between right- and left-kissers: both groups were predominantly right-kissers.
Detail from the study “Kissing Laterality and Handedness.”
Taking Sides on Taking Sides on Kissing
“Head-Turning Asymmetries During Kissing and Their Association with Lateral Preference,” Sebastian Ocklenburg and Onur Güntürkün, Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition, vol. 14, no. 1, January 2009, pp. 79-85. (Thanks to Richard Wassersug for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at Ruhr-Universitt Bochum, Germany, report:
[K]issing behaviour of participants towards a symmetrical doll was observed to assess their spontaneous head-turning preference. Additionally, participants’ individual handedness, footedness, and eye preference were determined using questionnaires. A significant difference in handedness and footedness, but not eye preference, was found between left- and right-kissers, with right-kissers showing a stronger right-sided bias than left-kissers.
Detail from the study “Kissing Right? On the Consistency of the Head-Turning Bias in Kissing.”
On the Consistency of the Head-Turning Bias in Kissing
“Kissing Right? On the Consistency of the Head-Turning Bias in Kissing,” John van der Kamp and Rouwen Cañal-Bruland, Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition, vol. 16, no. 3, 2011, pp. 257-267. The authors, at VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and the University of Hong Kong, China, report:
The present study investigated the consistency of the head-turning bias in kissing. In particular we addressed what happens if a person who prefers to kiss with the head turned to the right kisses a person who prefers to kiss with the head turned to the left. To this end, participants were required to kiss a life sized doll’s head rotated in different orientations that were either compatible or incompatible with the participants’ head-turning preference.... Results showed that a higher percentage of participants preferred to kiss with their head turned to the right than to the left. In addition, the right-turners were more consistent in their kissing behaviour than left-turners.
This article is republished with permission from the July-August 2016 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!
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