Examining the Possible Functions of Kissing in Romantic Relationships
- 3.3k Downloads
Recent research suggests that romantic kissing may be utilized in human sexual relationships to evaluate aspects of a potential mate’s suitability, to mediate feelings of attachment between pair-bonded individuals, or to facilitate arousal and initiate sexual relations. This study explored these potential functions of romantic kissing by examining attitudes towards the importance of kissing in the context of various human mating situations. The study involved an international online questionnaire, which was completed by 308 male and 594 female participants aged 18–63 years. Support was found for the hypothesis that kissing serves a useful mate-assessment function: women, high mate-value participants, and participants high in sociosexual orientation placed greater importance on kissing in romantic relationships and stated that an initial kiss was more likely to affect their attraction to a potential mate than did men, low-mate value participants or low sociosexual orientation participants. Kissing also seemed to be utilized in the mediation of pair-bond attachments: kissing was seen to be more important at established stages of relationships by low sociosexual participants, kissing was generally seen as more important in long-term relationship contexts (but particularly so by women), and kissing frequency was found to be related to relationship satisfaction. The findings of this research showed very little evidence to support the hypothesis that the primary function of kissing is to elevate levels of arousal.
KeywordsRomantic kissing Pair-bonding Attachment Mate choice Mate value Sociosexual orientation
The authors wish to acknowledge their colleagues at the Social and Evolutionary Neuroscience Research Group for their valuable input and advice, particularly Jacques Launay and Eiluned Pearce. RW and RD are both supported by a European Research Council Advanced Grant to RD.
- Eibl-Eibesfeldt, I. (1972). Love and hate: The natural history of behavior patterns. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
- Fisher, H. E. (1982). Sex contract: The evolution of human behavior. New York: Granada.Google Scholar
- Fisher, H. E. (1992). Anatomy of love: A natural history of mating, marriage, and why we stray. London: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
- Ford, C. S., & Beach, F. A. (1951). Patterns of sexual behavior. Oxford: Harper and Paul B Hoeber.Google Scholar
- Grewen, K. M., Girdler, S. S., Amico, J. A., & Light, K. C. (2005). Effects of partner support on resting oxytocin, cortisol, norepinephrine, and blood pressure before and after warm partner contact. Psychosomatic Medicine, 67, 531–538. doi: 10.1097/01.psy.0000170341.88395.47.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Kirshenbaum, S. (2011). The science of kissing: What our lips are telling us. New York: Grand Central Publishing.Google Scholar
- Little, A. C., Burt, D. M., Penton-Voak, I. S., & Perrett, D. I. (2001). Self-perceived attractiveness influences human female preferences for sexual dimorphism and symmetry in male faces. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 268, 39–44. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2000.1327.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Miller, G. F. (2001). The mating mind: How sexual choice shaped the evolution of human nature. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
- Parkinson, R. B. (1999). The tale of Sinuhe and other ancient Egyptian poems, 1940-1640 BC. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Penke, L., & Asendorpf, J. B. (2008). Beyond global sociosexual orientations: A more differentiated look at sociosexuality and its effects on courtship and romantic relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 1113–1135. doi: 10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2063.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Simpson, J. A., Gangestad, S. W., Bogart, H., Grudrein, D., Hall, M., Hutchins, L., … Williams, R. (1991). Individual differences in sociosexuality: Evidence for convergent and discriminant validity. Journal of Personality, 60, 870–883.Google Scholar
- Symons, D. (1979). The evolution of human sexuality. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Trivers, R. L. (1972). Parental investment and sexual selection. In B. Campbell (Ed.), Sexual selection and the descent of man, 1871–1971 (pp. 136–179). Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
- Tully, J., Viner, R. M., Coen, P. G., Stuart, J. M., Zambon, M., Peckham, C., … Booy, R. (2006). Risk and protective factors for meningococcal disease in adolescents: matched cohort study. British Medical Journal, 332, 445–450. doi: 10.1136/bmj.38725.728472.BE.
- Wlodarski, R., & Dunbar, R. I. M. (2013). Menstrual cycle effects on attitudes toward romantic kissing. Human Nature, Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s12110-013-9176-x.