the right way to smooch

Imagine kissing someone – not a peck on the cheek, but full lip-to-lip contact. How do you tilt your head? Chances are, it’ll be to the right. Researchers have known for a long time that embryos and infants show a distinct preference for turning their heads to the right, but, until now, no one knew whether the preference lasted into adulthood.

Psychologist Onur Gunturkun of Germany’s Ruhr University in Bochum decided to investigate. He clandestinely observed couples kissing in airports, train stations, parks, and beaches in the United States, Germany, and Turkey. In a study published in Nature last week, Gunturkun found that twice as many kissers tilted their heads to the right as to the left. A similar percentage of people also show a preference for using their right foot, eye, and ear. Right-handedness is even more pervasive (there are eight righties for every lefty), but it’s believed that cultural pressures influence that number.

This news brief appeared in the Random Data column of the Boston Globe’s Health/Science section on 2/18/2003.
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