Biology Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for biology researchers, academics, and students. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

The word natural here is meant in contrast to it being a sociological construct.

Is kissing in all its forms something natural for humans? Is it instinctively erotic? Or is it just a conventional form to show trust and intimicy, i.e. the association besically just comes via a social means?

Because the only other advantage of this mouth to mouth contact I could see is maybe for the immune system.

share|improve this question
It's probably one of the arbitrary reward systems for actions beneficial to reproduction. Social contact is advantageous for reproduction, so rewarding it makes sense. Kissing may just have developed because the lips are full of sensory receptors for food-proofing purposes already; so it's not a big effort to use them for additional purposes. – Armatus Jun 4 '12 at 11:25
up vote 26 down vote accepted

Wikipedia actually has a note on the evolution of kissing. They point out that there are grooming behaviors such as licking and social behaviors like dogs touching noses in many species even insects. They note that it is not decided at all whether kissing is learned or from some sort of instinct. They also mention that its reminiscent of feeding behavior common in birds (and other animals) where food is pushed down the throats of young. (try thinking about that next time!)

I seem to remember though that there are some culture which do not kiss. with their lips at least. This would favor kissing as a learned behavior, but these cases are very rare and isolated peoples and it might be simply a taboo to talk about kissing with researchers or at all, which is a hazard of that sort of work. In addition, bonobos, one our our closest primate cousins, do kiss frequently with the lips, as a social and intimate gesture and the parallels with most human cultures are difficult to ignore.

share|improve this answer
And here I thought my wife was making up the "Eskimo kiss" thing. – joseph_morris Nov 21 '12 at 4:23

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.