Why kissing isn't a universal act

Kissing is actually only a romantic act in 46% of the world’s cultures. Here's why.

Why are the lips considered more attractive in some cultures?

How you kiss might not be as universal as you think. It is universal that parents kiss their babies all over the world, that is a human universal. But that does not extend to adults. Prof. Jankowiak led one of the most authoritative cross-cultural analysis of kissing. Out of the 168 cultures investigated around the world – only 46% of them kiss in the “romantic-sexual” way according to American Anthropologist.

Discovering the mouth

“We had to be careful of their words, like a greeting, the French kiss on the cheek, which we did not code, it's a type of kiss, it's a type of greeting using the lips. But it's not what we think of as kissing. Kissing was really when your lips touched and you held it for some, some moment. You do find some hunters and gatherers that do kiss, and they're all located in the Arctic. You find absolutely no tribal hunting and gathering culture kissing in subtropical regions. Why is that? Subtropical regions, people aren't wearing clothes, there's many ways to engage in intimacy, you don't need the lips, but in the Arctic, your whole body is closed. The only thing exposed is the face. Clearly, the lips are sensuous. There is a central element to the lips. So, it's not by accident that we're not sucking elbows or think of, that's a little absurd, but look, a thing of kissing on the back of your hand, with some people will do periodically up just a little bit,” William Jankowiak, UNLV anthropology professor tells Brut.

Hard to know of any society that does not engage in kissing

In Western cultures, the average person spends 2 weeks of their life kissing – that's 20,160 minutes based on reports from Psychology Today. Human lips are 100 to 200x more sensitive than fingertips and 1 kiss requires 146 muscles to coordinate as stated in Society for Neuroscience and the NCBI. According to Jankowiak, the more socially complex the culture – the higher frequency of romantic-sexual kissing.