Science

Here's why we lean to the right when we kiss, according to psychologists

Researchers documented the kissing habits of heterosexual married couples.

You may not know it but you probably lean to the right when you kiss.

A team of psychologists from the UK and Bangaladesh have found that “humans have a bias for turning to the right in a number of settings” and one of them involves kissing.

The researchers asked 48 Bangladeshi heterosexual married couples to document how individuals kissed their partners.

Their aim was to see whether a “patriarchal conservative Muslim society” would behave differently from people in a Western society, where it is commonplace to see people kiss in public.

They found that “more than two-thirds (78%) of the kissing individuals had a bias for turning their heads to the right”.

The results also showed a male bias in “the initiation of kissing”, and, among the initiators, those who were right-handed were shown to lean right while left-handed people leaned left.

Couple kissing.
More than two-thirds of those kissing showed a bias for turning their heads to the right (Oneinchpunch/Getty Images)

However they also found that the recipients matched their partners’ head-leaning direction, regardless of whether they were left- or right-handed.

The researchers wrote in their paper: “We argue that studying the interactions of a kissing pair might only demonstrate the head-turning bias of the dominant partner who initiates the kiss: There will be a first kisser, first turner!”

They believe hormone levels and neurotransmitters in the two sides of the brain might play a role.

Writing in The Conversation, the team said: “Different hormone levels (such as testosterone) in each hemisphere and neurotransmitters might be unevenly distributed to each hemisphere (such as dopamine, involved in reward behaviours) and give rise to a bias to turn right.

“If you do lean in for a kiss to the left, you may be in the minority. But don’t worry – if the person you are kissing wants to be kissed, they will likely go left, too.”

The findings are published in the journal Nature.

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