Romantic kissing is not a universal thing, apparently

Smooching babies and children might be human nature, but making out is reserved for "complex" societies

Published July 13, 2015 2:22PM (EDT)

I'm going to start by admitting something: I have put my tongue in more than one other person's mouth in order to experience erotic pleasure. I have also allowed more than one person to put his tongue in my mouth, once again for the romantic-sexual endorphins that start flowing from a good make-out. Kissing is a universal tool for that, right?

Well, maybe not, according to a group of researchers from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. In an article for American Anthropologist, a team led by William R. Jankowiak explains that while some forms of kissing are universal, romantic kissing might not make the cut. It seems that while adults around the world might be inclined to smooch their babies and children, they're not necessarily into making out with one another.

"Despite frequent depictions of kissing in a wide range of material culture, we found no evidence that the romantic–sexual kiss is a human universal or even a near universal," the researchers write. "The romantic–sexual kiss was present in a minority of cultures sampled (46 percent)."

Reviewing data from several ethnographic sources on kissing in a number of human cultures, Jankowiak and his team found that romantic-sexual kissing was more common in "complex" societies that have a greater degree of social stratification. And they attribute generalizations about the universality of romantic kissing to a related phenomenon.

“We suspect that perhaps Western ethnocentrism -- that is ‘the belief that a behavior currently deemed pleasurable must be a human universal’ -- may be driving the common misconception that romantic-sexual kissing is a (near) universal,” they write.

Or maybe it's just that we have to assume that something like wanting to put your tongue inside someone else's mouth is just human nature.

(h/t Science of Us)

By Jenny Kutner

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Human Nature Kissing Love And Sex Research Romance Science Sex Sexuality