People Are Hard-Wired to Turn to the Right When We Kiss

Scientists studying couples found that most people tend to turn to a specific side while making out.
July 17, 2017, 2:27pm
Photo by Mauro Grigollo via Stocksy

New research has revealed what many of us already knew: that men like to dominate kissing, much the same as they like to dominate everything else.

A team of researchers from the universities of Dhaka, Bath, and Bath Spa set out to conduct one of the first large-scale studies into kissing in a non-Western context. The study, published in Scientific Reports, found that there is a right way to kiss: as in, literally most people tend to turn their heads to the right hand side while making out.


Scientists asked heterosexual married couples from Bangladesh to participate in the study. Bangladesh was chosen as a conservative Muslim society where kissing is generally not considered acceptable in public spaces—meaning that the kissing would be taking place in the subjects' homes, and that the survey findings would be less influenced by other cultural factors.

Read more: Why People Love to Make Out in Public

"Most of what we know about kissing is biased towards Western-educated, industrialized rich democratic countries," Dr. Alexandra de Sousa of Bath Spa University, one of the study's co-authors, explains. "Therefore their findings may not generalize to people around the world. Kissing behavior in these research cohort is private behavior, so less subject to cultural influences than in countries where kissing is done publicly."

After kissing at home, couples were asked to record their findings. Researchers found that 73 percent of kiss initiators turned their heads to the right when kissing, with 75 percent of kiss recipients also tilting their heads to the right. Right-handed people were also more likely to turn to the right while kissing, although Dr. De Sousa explains that left-handed people are more likely to vary in laterality, meaning they use both sides of their bodies for different tasks.

Men also tended to dominate initiating kisses in straight couples: They were 15 times more likely to initiate kisses than their female partner, with 79 percent of kiss initiators being male. Researchers speculated that Bangladesh's conservative cultural norms might cause men to take the more dominant sexual role, although men also tend to initiate kissing in Western countries.

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Another explanation for why men dominate hormones may be hormonal. "Testosterone has a role in kissing because it regulates the sex drive," Dr. De Sousa explains. "Men may be more likely to initiate kissing than women because testosterone is higher in men and sexually more dominant individuals."

Studying the ways in which people kiss has important consequences for understanding the ways in which the different hemispheres of our brain affect our behavior. In the future, Dr. De Sousa and her colleague plan to study how we hug. Until then, we now know that kisses are much more than simple tokens of affection—they show the very way our brains work.