This is why we tilt our heads to the right when we kiss

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Emily Reynolds

Find yourself tilting your head to the right when you go in for a kiss? There’s a reason for that…

There’s nothing worse than a bad kiss – just ask Cat Person’s Margot.

But while you’ve been worrying about your technique, there’s something you may not have noticed about kissing: that you tend to tilt your head to the right when you go in for a kiss.

According to a new study from the University of Bath, there’s a very good reason for this – and it’s not just about the images we see in the media.

“In Western societies, it is commonplace to see people kiss in public, on television, and in films,” the study author explained. “But are these screen kisses reflecting society, or do they influence how people behave? The prior research on the subject was all conducted with kissing in what are known as “W.E.I.R.D.” – Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic – societies. So the conclusions might not reflect what humans naturally do in the absence of learning through observation.”

To test their theory, participants from Bangladesh, where kissing is prohibited in public, and often censored from television or films, were asked to kiss in the privacy of their own homes. 

And results showed that even without exposure to such media, “more than two thirds” of kissing individuals had a bias for turning their heads to the right.

Researchers believe that the bias is related to the brain’s hemispheres, in which tasks are split up, and particularly with the left cerebral hemisphere, which is “located in the emotion and decision-related areas of the brain”.

“After looking at recent research in visual psychophysics and visual neuroscience, we saw various perceptual and behavioural phenomena in which humans can have a directional bias,” the authors wrote. 

So next time you’re going in for a snog, make sure you’re tilting your head to the right or face the dreaded head-bump…


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Emily Reynolds

Emily Reynolds is a journalist and author based in London. Her first book, A Beginner’s Guide to Losing Your Mind, came out in February 2017 with Hodder & Stoughton. She is currently working on her second.  

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