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Does Being a “Good Kisser” Really Matter?

Obviously, whether or not someone is a good kisser is important. But how important is it? Researchers have hypothesized that subjects who were told that a potential partner was a “good kisser” would find the potential partner as more attractive and would be more likely to pursue future dates with said partner than someone who was described as a “bad kisser.”1 In addition, the researchers expected that subjects would be more interested in having casual sex with this person and would be more likely to consider a long-term relationship, especially for women. So they clearly thought kissing is very important.1  

To test their hypotheses, 724 participants took an online questionnaire in which they were presented with four vignettes about potential partners, each with a series of follow-up questions. Briefly, a vignette is short description of a scenario. The second half of each vignette focused on another person’s account of the potential partner’s sexual competencies, such as how good a previous partner thought he/she was in bed, or how much he/she enjoyed physical intimacy.1 Researchers presented the same four vignettes to each of the participants. Half of the vignettes described a “good kisser” and the half described a “bad kisser.” Participants had to rate the potential partner in terms of how attractive they thought he/she was, how interested they would be in going out on a date with the person, how interested they would be in having a casual sexual encounter, as well as how likely they would be to pursue a long-term relationship. The researchers compared participants’ ratings of the “good kisser” and the “bad kisser.”

Participants rated the “good kissers” as more attractive, were more likely to go on a date with him/her, more willing to have a sexual encounter with him/her, and were more interested in pursuing a long-term relationship with this person. The effect of kissing ability on participants was also more pronounced for women than men; however, this was only the case when rating willingness for casual sexual encounters. In other words, when assessing a person as a potential short-term fling, kissing ability was more likely to be taken into account by females. Overall, it was shown that kissing is used as an assessment tool for screening potential mates.1

This demonstrates that our attitudes toward kissing and how we view the kissing abilities of others matter for choosing and assessing the quality of our mates.

1Wlodarski, R., & Dunbar, R. I. (2014). What’s in a kiss? The effect of romantic kissing on desirability. Evolutionary Psychology12(1), 178–199.

Dr. Marisa Cohen

Marisa, along with a colleague at St. Francis College, founded the Self-Awareness and Bonding Lab (SABL) in Fall 2014. Research has focused on the development of relationships throughout the life span, including factors influencing mate choice and peoples’ perceptions of what makes relationships survive and thrive. Her specific focus is on how various relationship configurations impact the satisfaction derived from them.

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