We may think a passionate kiss is a universal pleasure, but in some cultures, kissing doesn’t take place at all.
According to a new research, less than half of all societies use kissing to express sexual desire – and some even find the act repulsive.
The study found that out of 168 cultures from around the world, only 46 per cent of them kiss in the romantic sense.
For instance, data suggests 15 cultures our of 33 studied in North America where kissing is not present.
Romantic kissing takes place in in all Middle Eastern countries studies, but in Europe, three out of the 10 countries in the survey found kissing in a romantic scenario to be unacceptable.
In Asia, 27 per cent, or 10 out of 27 countries, didn’t kiss romantically.
The new study, which appears in an article in American Anthropologist, focused on romantic kisses between couples.
‘No ethnographer working with Sub-Saharan African, New Guinea, or Amazonian foragers or horticulturalists reported having witnessed any occasion in which their study populations engaged in a romantic–sexual kiss,’ the researchers report.
‘However, kissing appears to be nearly ubiquitous among 9 of the 11 foragers living in Circum-Arctic region (i northern Asia and North America).’
According to the BBC, the Mehinaku tribe in Brazil reportedly said it was ‘gross’
William Jankowiak of the University of Nevada in Las Vegas claims the research reveals how kissing is a learned behaviour, created by western societies and passed down through the generations.
Overall, the study contradicts earlier research that placed this figure at 90 per cent.
‘We suspect that perhaps Western ethnocentrism may be driving the common misconception that romantic-sexual kissing is a (near) universal,’ the researchers write.
The scientists also wanted to find out if there were anything different between cultures that do and don’t kiss.
They discovered that ‘there is a direct relationship between the presence of kissing and the level of stratification within a society, with kissing present most frequently in complex societies.’
While the researchers don’t appear to have any explanation for this, they do say that the urge isn’t in our genes.
Our lips are one of the most sensitive parts of our bodies, with plenty of sensory neurons linked to the brain’s pleasure centres.
Some believe it floods the brain with the love, security and comfort chemicals associated with breastfeeding.
And our ancestors probably weaned their babies by mouth-to-mouth sharing of food, reinforcing the connection between sharing spit and pleasure.
Another idea is our foraging ancestors were attracted to red ripe fruit and so developed red lips to tempt sexual partners.
Kissing has been shown to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increase the bonding hormone oxytocin, so is good for our health and happiness.
But kissing as we do it today seems to be a relatively recent invention, Rafael Wlodarski, a researcher at Oxford University told the BBC.
He notes that pheromones are a big part of how mammals chose a mate.
‘We’ve inherited all of our biology from mammals, we’ve just added extra things through evolutionary time,’ he said.
If his view is correct, then in Western societies, kissing is simply a way to get close enough to another person.
Source: Daily Mail