Skip to main content
Log in

What’s in a Kiss? Spatial Experience Shapes Directional Bias During Kissing

  • Brief Report
  • Published:
Journal of Nonverbal Behavior Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

One of the less-known functional asymmetries in humans is the rightward head-turning bias, in which infants spend more time turning their head to the right, rather than to the left. Observational studies showed that this asymmetry disappears around the age of 3 months. Recently, an intriguing observation found a similar rightward head-turning bias during kissing, apparently indicating that the early head-motor bias persists into adulthood. Here we challenge the theory of the innate head-turning bias in adults during lip kissing, showing by means of behavioral and observational studies that the direction of the bias is culturally dependent. Moreover, we suggest that the head-turning bias during kissing is an acquired behavioral asymmetry, probably shaped by spatial experience within cultural habits (i.e., reading direction), rather than reflecting pre-wired hemispherical lateral asymmetry.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  • Barrett, D., Greenwood, J. G., & McCullagh, J. F. (2006). Kissing laterality and handedness. Laterality, 11, 573–579.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Beaumont, J. G. (1985). Lateral organization and aesthetic preference: The importance of peripheral visual asymmetries. Neuropsychologia, 23, 103–113.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Bennett, K. M., Latto, R., Bertamini, M., Bianchi, I., & Minshull, S. (2010). Does left- right orientation matter in the perceived expressiveness of pictures? A study of Bewick’s animals (1753–1828). Perception, 39, 970–981.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Bertamini, M., Bennett, K. M., & Bode, C. (2011). The anterior bias in visual art: The case of images of animals. Laterality, 16, 673–689.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Chokron, S., & De Agostini, M. (2000). Reading habits influence aesthetic preference. Cognitive Brain Research, 10, 45–49.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Christman, S., & Pinger, K. (1997). Lateral biases in Aesthetic Preferences: Pictorial dimensions and neural mechanisms. Laterality, 2, 155–175.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Coryell, J. F., & Michel, G. F. (1978). How supine postural preferences of infants can contribute toward the development of handedness. Infant Behaviour and Development, 1, 245–257.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Costa, M., Menzani, M., & Bitti, P. I. R. (2001). Head canting in paintings: An historical study. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 25(1), 63–73.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Elias, L. J., Bryden, M. P., & Bulman-Fleming, M. B. (1998). Footedness is a better predictor than is handedness of emotional lateralisation. Neuropsychologia, 36, 37–43.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Gordon, I. (1974). Left and right in Goya’s portraits. Nature, 249, 197–198.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Grusser, O.-J., Selke, T., & Zynda, B. (1988). Cerebral lateralization and some implications for art, aesthetic perception and aristic creativity. In I. Rentschler, B. Herzberger, & D. Epstein (Eds.), Beauty and the brain. Biological aspects of aesthetics (pp. 257–293). Boston: Birkhauser.

    Google Scholar 

  • Güntürkün, O. (2003). Adult persistence of head-turning asymmetry. Nature, 421, 711.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Harris, L. J., & Fitzgerald, H. E. (1983). Postural orientation in human infants: Changes from birth to three months. In G. Young, S. J. Segalowitz, C. M. Corter, & S. E. Trehub (Eds.), Manual specialization of the developing brain (pp. 305–385). New York: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Heath, R. H., Mahmasanni, O., Rouhana, A., & Nassif, N. (2005). Comparison of aesthetic preferences among Roman and Arabic readers. Laterality, 10, 399–411.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hopkins, B., Lems, W., Janssen, B., & Butterworth, G. (1987). Postural and motor asymmetries in newlyborns. Human Neurobiology, 6, 153–156.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Kazandjian, S., Dupierrix, E., Gaash, E., Love, I., Zivotofsky, A., De Agostini, M., et al. (2009). Egocentric reference in bidirectional r readers as measured by the straight-ahead pointing task. Brain Research, 1247, 133–141.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Konishi, Y., Mikawa, H., & Suzuki, J. (1986). Asymmetrical head-turning of preterm infants: Some effects on later postural and functional lateralities. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 28, 450–457.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Lindell, A. K., & Savill, N. J. (2010). Time to turn the other cheek? The influence of left and right poses on perceptions of academic specialization. Laterality, 15, 639–650.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • McManus, I. C., & Humphrey, N. K. (1973). Turning the left cheek. Nature, 243, 271–272.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Michel, G. F. (1981). Right-handedness: A consequence of infant supine head-orientation preference? Science, 212, 685–687.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Miles, W. R. (1930). Ocular dominance in human adults. Journal of General Psychology, 3, 412–430.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Morikawa, K., & McBeath, M. K. (1992). Lateral motion bias associated with reading direction. Vision Research, 32, 1137–1141.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Nicholls, M. E. R., Clode, D., Wood, S. J., & Wood, A. G. (1999). Laterality of expression in portraiture: Putting your best cheek forward. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, 266, 1517–1522.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nicholls, M. E. R., Ellis, B. E., Clement, J. G., & Yoshino, M. (2004). Detecting hemifacial asymmetries in emotional expression with 3D computerised image analysis. Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences, 271(1540), 663–668.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Nicholls, E. R., & Roberts, G. R. (2002). Can free-viewing perceptual asymmetries be explained by scanning, pre-motor or attentional biases? Cortex, 38, 113–136.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Nicholls, M. E. R., Wolfgang, B. J., Clode, D., & Lindell, A. K. (2002). The effect of left and right poses on the expression of facial emotion. Neuropsychologia, 40, 1662–1665.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Ocklenburg, S., & Güntürkün, O. (2009). Head-turning asymmetries during kissing and their association with lateral preference. Laterality, 14, 79–85.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Oldfield, R. C. (1971). The assessment and analysis of handedness: The Edinburgh Inventory. Neuropsychologia, 9, 97–113.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Palmer, S. E., Gardner, J. S., & Wickens., T. D. (2008). Aesthetic issues in spatial composition: Effect of position and direction on framing single objects. Spatial Vision, 21, 421–449.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Powell, W. R., & Schirillo, J. A. (2009). Asymmetrical facial expressions in portraits and hemispheric laterality: A literature review. Laterality, 14(6), 545–572.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Previc, F. H. (1991). A general theory concerning the prenatal origin of cerebral lateralization in human. Psychological Review, 98(3), 299–334.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Robinson, E. S. (1933). The psychology of public educations. American Journal of Public Health, 23, 123–128.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Roether, C., Omlor, L., & Giese, M. A. (2008). Lateral asymmetry of bodily emotion expression. Current Biology, 18, R329–R330.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Rönnqvist, L., & Hopkins, B. (1998). Head position preference in human newborn: A new look. Child Development, 69, 13–23.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Rönnqvist, L., Hopkins, B., Van Emmerik, R., & de Groot, L. (1998). Lateral biases in spontaneous head turning and the Moro response in the human newborn: Are they both vestibular in origin? Developmental Psychobiology, 33, 339–349.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Schirillo, J. A. (2007). Gender’s effect on the hemispheric laterality of Rembrandt’s portraits. Spatial Vision, 21, 19–26.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Shaki, S., & Fischer, M. H. (2008). Reading space into numbers – A cross-linguistic comparison of the SNARC effect. Cognition, 108, 590–599.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Shaki, S., Gobel, S., & Fischer, M. (2012). Direction counts: A comparative study of spatially directional counting biases in cultures with different reading directions. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 112, 275–281.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Turnbull, O. H., Stein, L., & Lucas, M. D. (1995). Lateral preferences in adult embracing: A test of the “hemispheric asymmetry” theory of infant cradling. Journal of General Psychology, 156(1), 17–21.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tversky, B., Kugelmass, S., & Winter, A. (1991). Cross-cultural and developmental trends in graphic productions. Cognitive Psychology, 23, 515–557.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Van der Kamp, J., & Canal-Bruland, R. (2011). Kissing right? On the consistency of the head-turning bias in kissing. Laterality, 16, 257–267.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Ververs, I. A. P., De Vries, J. I. P., Van Geijn, H. P., & Hopkins, B. (1994). Prenatal head position from 12–38 weeks: I. Developmental aspects. Early Human Development, 39, 83–91.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Zivotofsky, A. Z. (2004). Choosing sides: lateralization in line trisection and quadrisection as a function of reading direction and handedness. Cognitive Brain Research, 20, 206–211.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Conflict of interest

None.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Samuel Shaki.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Shaki, S. What’s in a Kiss? Spatial Experience Shapes Directional Bias During Kissing. J Nonverbal Behav 37, 43–50 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10919-012-0141-x

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10919-012-0141-x

Keywords

Navigation