Scientists Say There’s a Right Way to Kiss

People kiss in a very specific way, according to scientific research. (Photo: Getty Images)
People kiss in a very specific way, according to scientific research. (Photo: Getty Images)

Turns out your kissing habits are predictable.

According to a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, people are hard wired to turn their heads to the right when leaning in for a romantic kiss, and men are more likely than women to initiate the act.

For the study, scientists asked 48 married couples in Bangladesh and in Bath, England, to kiss in their homes and then report on various details of the kiss. Not only did findings reveal that more than two-thirds of people turn their heads to the right (no matter who initiated the kiss), but men were also 15 times more likely than women to pucker up first.

The researchers found that it did matter whether the initiator was right- or left-handed, but not so for the recipients, suggesting that whoever is receiving the kiss positions themselves to comfortably accommodate their partner. In fact, people in the study who were told to lean in the same direction reported feeling uncomfortable while kissing.

Yahoo Beauty were unable to reach the study authors for comment. However, lead author Rezaul Karim, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Dhaka, said in a press release, “This is the first study to show sex differences in the initiation of kissing, with males more likely being the initiator, and also that the kiss initiators’ head-turning direction tends to modulate the head-turning direction in the kiss recipients. Based on our prior theoretical work, we are also able to make new hypotheses about the underlying neural basis for these behaviors.”

There’s also a fascinating physiological reason people turn to the right before kissing, according to the study: The act of kissing causes the brain to unevenly distribute testosterone and neurotransmitters into different hemispheres of the brain, specifically in the left side, which causes people to lean to the right.

That’s one way to kill the mood! So why is this important? “Head turning is one of the earliest biases seen in development — even in the womb, a preference for turning the head to the right is observable before that of favoring the right hand or foot,” Karim said in the press release. “Whether this fundamental bias is innate and extends into adulthood is a lingering question for neuroscience and psychology.”

The findings are not surprising to biological anthropologist Helen Fisher. “While women usually are the first to strike up a conversation with a man or flirtatiously touch him on the arm, there’s a stage of courtship called ‘initiative transfer’ during which the man gets the hint and responds by kissing,” she tells Yahoo Beauty.

Leaning to the right also makes sense, practically and ergonomically speaking. “There are two noses between a couple, and they have to find a way around it,” says Fisher. “Like two puzzle pieces, the people have to fit.”

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