I’ve often wondered about the phenomenon of the kiss. If two young people were never exposed to kissing, would it be a natural thing that would happen? I know they explored this in The Blue Lagoon (1980) a movie starring Brooke Shields, but the scene was kind of hokey. And since I’m a scientest at heart I had to go seeking some answers. Here’s what I found …

Believe it or not there’s a name for the science of kissing … philematology and it is widely studied. Nearly 90% of human societies do it and it seems I’m not the only one interested in finding out the whys of the action. Lots of scientists are trying to figure out why we get the warm, fuzzy feelings or the icky, creepy feelings when we’re locking lips with another.

Some anthropologists believe that kissing evolved from sniffing, as some indigenous cultures rub noses rather than kissing. It seems we have a very powerful musk gland right under our eyes, and each person has a distinct smell. Kissing got started by people smelling each other and they would rub across the nose. Touching the lips was a natural outgrowth.

The tongue and the lips are some of the most sensitive parts of our bodies. Both of them are packed with large amounts of nerve endings. Scientifically speaking, kissing releases chemical messengers in the brain called neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters attach to pleasure receptors in your brain creating feelings of passion, euphoria and elation. The same transmitters are released in high risk activities like skydiving or bungee jumping. It works the same way with passionate kissing, which is why your heart to beats faster and your breathing becomes deep and irregular.

Male saliva also holds testosterone which definitely affects the way a female reacts to her kissing partner. Some theorize that the testosterone makes the female more receptive to sex. In any case it appears feelings of like or love definitely affect the pleasure of the kiss as well.

There’s also the theory that kissing breaks the personal barriers and therefore creates an attachment to another person. This vulnerability heightens the chemical sensitivity well above normal levels, often blocking other types of synaptic chemical transmissions throughout the brain such as basic principles of reasoning. This may be way some people experience a surreal reality during and right after kissing that is created by purely animal like physical reactions rather than advanced means of humanistic logic.

This still doesn’t really answer my question as to whether humans not exposed to kissing would naturally do this. But I guess it really doesn’t matter. In the end I guess I’m just going to do what feels right. And trust me when I tell you, Mr. Pierce has perfected the kiss!

0 Responses to Kiss and Tell

  • Really fascinating stuff! And it makes total sense how this evolved. Because there are certain things in modern day life that don’t–like artichokes. Who on earth looked at one and thought “You know, I bet I could EAT that.” But kissing? I get it now. 🙂

  • As another science geek, this is a fascinating post! I’ve also heard that kissing boosts your immune system. It seems we’ve somewhat evolved into kissing machines. 🙂

  • Lisa – LOL! That is so funny you mention about the artichokes … we were just discussing this the other day. Seriously. WHY would someone think that was edible? I’m thinking I may have to do a blog on that some day.

    Jeannie – LOL! Kissing machines, that is so true!

  • Wow, so many things I didn’t know. And I agree with Lisa, on both counts.

    BTW, we gave you the One Lovely Blog award today on our blog. 😀

    Fun post.

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