Sunday, February 16, 2003

Asymmetry in Kissing

I found an interesting research report in Nature. It includes a photo of Auguste Rodin's masterpiece The Kiss, in which a couple is kissing by turning their heads to the right. The author of the report is Onur Güntürkün, a psychologist at the University of Ruhr. What do you think is the theme of this report?

The title of the report [1] is "Adult persistence of head-turning asymmetry." Other authors found earlier that humans preferred to turn the head to the right for the final weeks of the fetus and for the first six months after birth. Güntürkün has found that this head motor bias persists into adulthood.

Güntürkün observed 124 kissing couples in public places in the United States, Germany and Turkey. The result shows that 80 pairs (64.6%) turned their head to the right and that 44 (35.5%) turned to the left. This indicates the significant head-turning bias towards the right side, just like fetuses and newborns.

Which side do you turn your heads in kissing, to the right or to the left? Do you want to check it right now?
  1. O. Güntürkün, Nature, Vol. 421, 711 (2003); addendum, ibid., Vol. 421, 711 (2003); See also S. Graham, “Kissing the right way,” Sci. Amer. News 13 Feb (2003)

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