New York, Aug 6 (IANS) Sexual and romantic kissing is not welcomed in many cultures around the world, finds an interesting study, adding that some even find the erotic lip-lock uncomfortable and even repulsive.
Using standard cross-cultural methods, researchers from Indiana University found that fewer than half of all 168 cultures surveyed — 46 percent — engage in romantic or sexual kissing.
Romantic kissing was defined as lip-to-lip contact that may or may not be prolonged.
When it comes to human kissing, it does serve as a way to learn more about a partner, “whether one feels there is any ‘chemistry,’ or possibly to assess health via taste and smell and to assess compatibility with each other,” explained lead author Justin Garcia, research scientist at Kinsey Institute at Indiana University.
There is likely a biological underpinning to open-mouth kissing.
“It can often involve exchange of pheromones and saliva, and also pathogens — which might be particularly dangerous in societies without oral hygiene, where kissing may lead to spread of respiratory or other illness,” he noted.
The team hypothesised that some cultures would either not engage in romantic or sexual kissing or find it to be a strange display of intimacy
“But we were surprised to find that it was a majority of cultures that fell into this category,” Garcia noted.
Romantic kissing was most prevalent in the Middle East, where all 10 of the cultures studied engaged in it.
In North America, 55 percent of cultures engaged in romantic kissing, along with 70 percent in Europe and 73 percent in Asia.
But there was no evidence of romantic kissing in central America.
The research conducted by Garcia and colleagues also found a relationship between social complexity and kissing: The more socially complex and stratified a society is, the higher the frequency of romantic kissing.
It is not clear where romantic or sexual kissing evolved from. Some animals engage in similar behaviours like chimpanzees who are known to engage in open-mouth kissing.
“But some societies have come to see the erotic kiss as part of their larger romantic and sexual repertoires,” the authors concluded.