U of S researchers look at the science of smooching

New psychology research from the University of Saskatchewan suggests that people kiss in one direction more than the other, to the right, but that depends on who they are kissing.

Psychology graduate student student and professor find pattern in parent-child kissing

Anthony Sanchez and Stephanie Hernandez, left, and John and Analicia Vazquez, right, kiss after taking their vows with dozens of other couples in a mass Valentine's Day wedding on the steps of the Bexar County Courthouse, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, in San Antonio. (Eric Gay/The Associated Press)

Less than two days before Valentine's Day, new psychology research from the University of Saskatchewan suggests that people kiss in one direction more than the other, to the right, but that depends on who they are kissing.

Graduate student Jennifer Sedgewick and psychology professor Lorin Elias took past research, which argued that romantic couples favour turning right when embracing their partner, and wondered if the same principle applied to parents kissing their kids. 

To work towards a conclusion, the pair gathered 529 online images of parent-child kisses, along with 161 photos of romantic parent-parent kisses, and analyzed the direction of each kiss.

They found that parents kissing one another showed the expected rightward bias, but they found the other result surprising. 

"Parents and their children were significantly more likely to turn to the left when kissing," Elias said.

Sedgewick speculated that leftward kisses might feel more natural between parents and children, because "parents usually cradle infants using their left arm, which would encourage them to turn their face to that side when kissing their child," Sedgewick said.

She said they think this might become a habit "that persists past the cradling stage"

As for romantic couples kissing to the right, the pair things that past research holds the answer as to why: Couples entering into new romantic relationships show heightened activity on the left side of their brains, which might guide them to make more rightward kisses.

Coast Guard Cutter Healy crew member Jeffrey Wilkes of Lynwood, Wash., gets a welcome home kiss from his daughter Olivia, 4, after the ship docked in Seattle, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015. (Larry Steagall/Kitsap Sun via The Associated Press)

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