SOMERSET, England — How to kiss “correctly” is an age-old question that can certainly vary from person to person. As it turns out, the way you tilt your head may actually be more instinct and less style. Leaning your head to the right might just be the most naturally comfortable way humans kiss, and there’s good reason, according to a recent study.
Scientists at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom examined 48 married couples in Bangladesh, hoping to learn more about the kissing tendencies of lovers in non-Western societies.
Bangladeshis, in particular, were a perfect case study for examining the most “natural” way to kiss, in that they are barred from viewing kissing on TV or film, and thus aren’t influenced by societal factors. Overall, two thirds of Bangladeshi couples — whether they initiated or received the kiss — were found to have turned their heads to the right while kissing.
Men, who were 15 times as likely to initiate a kiss compared to women, usually saw their wife mirror the tilt of their head when they smooched.
“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,” says lead author Dr. Rezaul Karim in a statement.
Based on their findings, the researchers believe that one’s head tilt while kissing is in part determined by their predominant hand, explaining why a tilt to the right is most common.
It would appear as if this tendency goes back to one’s prenatal care.
“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,” says Karim. “Whether this fundamental bias is innate and extends into adulthood is a lingering question for neuroscience and psychology.”
Karim suggests that most are unaware of biases that may cause them to lean a certain way while kissing, and that previous research was insufficient in evaluating one’s environment apropos of their kissing style.
Ultimately, leaning to the right to kiss your partner isn’t a conditioning as much as it’s a general human preference.
The study’s findings are published in the journal Scientific Reports.
This article was first published on July 18, 2017.