Why do people kiss?


Kissing is often a way to show affection. Tereza Dvorak and Luke Branscum at 2012 Carlmont prom

Veronika Dvorakova, Art Director/Columnist

Pressing one’s lips against those of another person or object has become a common practice in many cultures. When parents kiss their children, it means something different than when they kiss each other. Some people will greet strangers with a kiss on the cheek and then use the same gesture to express intimate feelings to a lover. Quite frequently, angered individuals request that one is applied to their hindquarters.

So why do people kiss? “I guess it is because [kissing] feels good,” said junior Pareesa Darafshi. “Everyone’s lips have very sensitive nerve endings that respond to the stimulation of kissing.”

Whether a kiss is passionate, awkward, flirty, affectionate, or used as a simple greeting, scientists are divided as to whether the desire to exchange saliva is the result of instinctual or evolutionary factors.

Kristina Fiore, a philematologist (one who studies the anatomy and evolution of kissing), said, “some believe kissing is an instinctive behavior, and cite animals’ kissing-like behaviors as proof. While most animals rub noses with each other as a gesture of affection, others like to pucker up just like humans.”

Fiore articulated that the alternate popular explanation is that some “believe kissing is a learned behavior, dating back to the days of our early human ancestors. Back then, mothers may have chewed food and passed it from their mouths into those of their toothless infants.”

There are many cultures that did not know of kissing until they had made contact with European explorers, which makes it reasonable to say that it is not a biological trait. The appeal of kissing was not immediately apparent to them; many considered the exchange of saliva disgusting.

The words “exchange of saliva” and “disgusting” may be related in the minds of many in the Carlmont community who have witnessed public displays of affection on campus.

Snehal Pandey, a freshman, said “I feel disgusted when I see couples snogging in the hallway at school. Meeting up in the hallway is not reason enough for a kiss, say there is a fire and everything is exploding, and you finally find your boyfriend or girlfriend in all of the devastation, then I think it is appropriate to kiss at school.”

There is a diverse response to kissing at school. Sophomore Cassidy Sobey said, “If it is brief, it’s different than a full on public make out session. A brief kiss is cute, but some people cross the line between cute and repulsive.”

According to a poll of of 171 Carlmont students, 26 percent consider all public displays of affection “disgusting.”

The attitude students have toward kissing in public correlates with the percent of Carlmont students they believe have been kissed. Pandey, a strong opponent to kissing, estimates that 75 to 80 percent of students have never been kissed, while Sobey insisted that over half have been.

Of the same 171 Carlmont students, 75 percent confessed that they have been kissed before, which could cause one to wonder why public displays of affection are not even more prevalent in the hallways.