6 Jul

Map of the Week: Mapping Romantic Kissing for National Kissing Day


National Kissing Day aims to make us appreciate a kiss in its own right. A kiss is more than just a meaning, it is a feeling and is easy to get lost in. In fact, the longest kiss on record lasted 58 hours, 35 minutes and 58 seconds. They certainly got lost in that kiss!

Although we spend some time kissing in the western world (maybe not a straight 58 hours worth) there are numerous cultures around the world which do not indulge in the act of a kiss and even find it “gross“. There are some hypotheses circulating about the function of evolutionary reason for intimate kissing. But, it is not quite an understood topic. Some ideas, according to DailyMail.co, include the belief that kissing floods the brain with the love, security and comfort chemicals associated with breastfeeding and that possibly our ancestors weaned their babies by mouth-to-mouth sharing of food to reinforce the connection between sharing spit and pleasure. Another idea leads to attraction, our foraging ancestors were attracted to red ripe fruits and so developed red lips to attract mates (typing this while eating a red ripe strawberry).

All of these ideas bring forth simple innate needs of humans. However, kissing as we do it today is relatively recent according to Rafael Wlodarski, a researcher at Oxford University.

To reinforce the point that kissing is not an innate trait, some scientists are suggesting that Western ethnocentrism may be driving the common misconception that romantic-sexual kissing is universal. The study written by William Jankowiak, a researcher at the University of Nevada, et al. concludes that the romantic-sexual kiss is not a universal human activity. The following map is taken from the research and shows kissing/non-kissing cultures around the world.

kissing map

Credit for map given on picture. Please follow the link provided to view the full interactive map: http://sumsar.net/files/academia/map_of_romantic_kissing.html#references

There has been some criticism behind this study due to the projection of the data and the decision to include some cultures but not others (such as excluding France and Italy). Read criticisms and engage in the full interactive map at this link.

A lot goes into kissing. But on this National Kissing Day just try to appreciate a kiss for what it is and forget about meaning and reason!

Written by Mariesa Outridge July 6th, 2016