Why Do We Kiss?

In Health, Human Biology, Nature by Mystifact

How many people do you think you’ve kissed during your lifetime? From family, to friends, to lovers; you have kissed them all for different reasons. A kiss is the unmistakable symbol for love, something as instinctive as the handshake, but means so much more. But what are the origins of this universal gesture and how has it become so ingrained into human culture?

The Science of Kissing

Philematology is the scientific term for the study of kissing. Before we start to consider the study of kissing, we need to look at its history and origins to know how this act may have come about.

History of Kissing

Currently, the origins of kissing are split into two theories and Scientists tend to have mixed opinions on which they prefer. The theories are either ‘learned’ or ‘Instinctual/ Intuitive’ [1].

Learned

What do we mean by ‘learned’? It’s actually quite self-explanatory; we simply learned how to kiss. Scientists believe we did this by Kiss Feeding. Kiss Feeding is the passing of partially digested food (chewed food) from the mother’s mouth into her baby’s. From the levels of intimacy and emotional bonding achieved, this eventually led to the act of kissing! This is especially common in birds as shown in figure 1 below.

Instinctual

Other Scientists believe we kiss due to instinct. They use the argument that various animals, such as Bonobos, are seen to kiss as evidence as to why us Humans do it too. After studying these animals, it is seen they also kiss for comfort and to further develop the social bonds between them, as we do.

Figure 1: Image showing a bird feeding its offspring with its mouth

The Intricacies of the Mouth

As you may know, our lips and tongues are jampacked with nerves, making the mouth one of the most sensitive parts of our bodies [2]. Triggering them in the right ways, i.e. during a kiss, can light up your pleasure receptors and flush your brain with a cocktail of feel-goodchemicals. These chemicals include SerotoninOxytocin and Dopamine, which all play a big part in your brain’s reward system. A good, intimate kiss can lead to physical responses such as increased heart ratedilated pupils and tingles all over because of all these chemicals acting in your brain!

Testosterone

Testosterone is a hormone responsible for multiple functions in the human body, including stimulating sexual characteristics in both men and women [3]. Men naturally have a lot more testosterone than women. Having said that, kissing can actually transfer testosterone from the man’s mouth to their partner’s, making them more receptive to sex and passing along of genes.

Why Kissing is good for you

Despite the fact that kissing is a fun and rewarding experience, it has various benefits; not just for your partner, but also for you!

Kissing reduces Stress

As mentioned previously, the flush of feel-good chemicals in the brain from kissing actually counteracts stress to help reduce it to lower levels, or even get rid of it completely [4]. If you kiss frequently, you’ll know when’s best to go about your business!

Kissing burns Calories

Although kissing is nowhere near as intense an exercise as running, a single session of kissing can burn about 8-16 calories. If you kiss a lot, expect to burn a considerable number of calories over the years. Remember not to depend on it to stay fit and healthy though, that would be obscene!

Helps find the right mate

Believe it or not, a kiss can help you identify a potential mate before getting emotionally or sexually involved [5]. Studies claim that a bad kiss can show conflict in different personalities, for example. Scientists advise you to give a “meh” kisser another chance due to the reason the kiss wasn’t as good being due to potential shyness or embarrassment!

If you have any questions, leave them below and until next time, take care.

~ Mystifact


References:
[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiss#History
[2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_mouth
[3]: https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-testosterone
[4]: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/01/14
[5]: http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2013-10-11

Please note; no copyright infringement is intended. All images used have been labelled for re-use on Google Images. If any artist or designer has any issues with any of the content used in this article, please don’t hesitate to contact me to correct the issue.

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