In today's foray into improbable research, Martin Gardiner takes a look at a Dutch study about the awkward logistics of going in for a kiss.
"…what happens if a person who prefers to kiss with the head turned to the right attempts to kiss a person who prefers to kiss with the head turned to the left."?
This potentially awkward social situation is the subject of a new scientific analysis from researchers at the MOVE Research Institute based at Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, in the Netherlands.
Although previous experiments have suggested that roughly two thirds of young western adults tend to ‘kiss to the right' – complex scenarios can arise with randomly selected kissers. As the lead researchers Dr. John van der Kamp and Dr. Rouwen Cañal-Bruland explain -
"One upshot of the similar head-turning biases in kissing among individuals and couples is that, when a right-turner kisses a left-turner, they are equally likely to switch their head to the non-preferred side. That is, if the individual head-turning bias is two right-turners for each left-turner, then if couples form randomly, four of nine couples would consist of right-turners, one couple would consists of left-turners, and the remaining four couples would consists of a right- and left-turner. If right- and left-turners are equally likely to switch to the non-preferred side, then two of four mixed couples will turn their head to the right, resulting in six of nine couples ‘kissing right' "
In an experiment to clarify the behavioural possibilities, the team presented a dummy (above) to a set of 57 male and female participants who had varying kissing-side preferences. The dummy was inclined in various poses as shown, and each participant attempted kissing it in each orientation. Analysis of the results not only confirmed that the majority (71.9%) were ‘right-kissers' but also showed up a previously undocumented nuance – "…with the doll's head rotated in an incompatible direction, right-turners were less likely to switch their head to their non-preferred side."
‘Kissing right? On the consistency of the head-turning bias in kissing' is scheduled for publication in a future edition of the journal Laterality. In the meantime, it can be found here:
Note : The experiment was conducted in accordance with the ethical guidelines of the Faculty of Human Movement Sciences in Amsterdam.
This post originally appeared on Improbable Research.