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Sex Differences in Kissing: A Quick Review

Studies have shown that women place greater importance on kissing than do men. Females are more likely to use kissing “…as a means of initiating, maintaining, and monitoring the current status of their relationship with a long-term partner.”1 Women are also more likely to judge how committed a partner is based on the way he or she kisses.1 Whereas some studies show that females desire kissing more than men,2 others show that desire to engage in kissing behavior for men and women is the same.3

Beyond kissing for the purpose of expressing physical affection, the timing of kisses and purposes it serves with regard to sexual intercourse also vary between males and females. In one study, 170 participants completed a survey that examined behaviors that occur just prior to, during, or immediately after intercourse.4 Results demonstrated that, with regard to kissing, males were more likely to initiate kissing prior to sex, whereas women were more likely to initiate kissing after sex; however, kissing was rated by both males and females as important just prior to intercourse.4 Thus, while kissing is valued by both men and women, the way it is used and the timing of kisses vary between the sexes.

1Hughes, S. M., Harrison, M. A., & Gallup Jr., G. G. (2007). Sex differences in romantic kissing among college students: An evolutionary perspective. Evolutionary Psychology, 5(3), 612-631.

2Schmitt, D. P. (2003). Universal gender differences in the desire for sexual variety: Tests from 52 nations, 6 continents, and 13 islands. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 85–104.

3Santtila, P., Wager, I., Witting, K., Harlaar, N., Jern, P., Johansson, A., & ... Sandnabba, N. K. (2008). Discrepancies between sexual desire and sexual activity: Gender differences and associations with relationship satisfaction. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 34(1), 29-42. doi:10.1080/00926230701620548

4Hughes, S. M., & Kruger, D. J. (2011). Sex differences in post-coital behaviors in long- and short-term mating: An evolutionary perspective. Journal of Sex Research, 48(5), 496-505. doi:10.1080/00224499.2010.501915

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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