What’s in a kiss? A study by Oxford University researchers suggests kissing helps us size up potential partners and, once in a relationship, may be a way of getting a partner to stick around.
To understand more, Rafael Wlodarski and Professor Robin Dunbar set up an online questionnaire in which over 900 adults answered questions about the importance of kissing in both short-term and long-term relationships.
The researchers report their findings in two papers, one in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior and the second in the journal Human Nature, both published by Springer. They were funded by the European Research Council.
The survey responses showed that women rated kissing as generally more important in relationships than men.
Furthermore, men and women who rated themselves as being attractive, or who tended to have more short-term relationships and casual encounters, also rated kissing as being more important.
Previous studies have shown women tend to be more selective when initially choosing a partner.
Men and women who are more attractive, or have more casual sex partners, have also been found to be more selective in choosing potential mates.
As it is these groups which tended to value kissing more in their survey responses, it suggests that kissing helps in assessing potential mates.
It has been suggested previously that kissing may allow people to subconsciously assess a potential partner through taste or smell, picking up on biological cues for compatibility, genetic fitness or general health.
While high levels of arousal might be a consequence of kissing (particularly as a prelude to sex), the researchers say it does not appear to be a driving factor that explains why we kiss in romantic relationships.
Other findings included:
* In short relationships, survey participants said kissing was most important before sex, less so during sex, was less important again after sex and was least important at other times.
* More frequent kissing in a relationship was linked to the quality of a relationship, while this wasn’t the case for having more sex. However, people’s satisfaction with the amount of both kissing and sex did tally with the quality of that relationship.
News source: Springer Science+Business Media.
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