Christmas Kissing: How Mistletoe Became a Kissing Cue

Christmas Kissing: How Mistletoe Became a Kissing Cue

A lot of people decorate with mistletoe around Christmas, hanging it from the ceiling or over a door. Mistletoe is more than just a holiday decoration, though—it’s also a cue for smooching. People offer kisses to those who stand or walk under it. Have you ever wondered why, though? How did mistletoe come to be associated with kissing anyway? Here’s what we know.

Read More

Why Do We Kiss Under Mistletoe?

Why Do We Kiss Under Mistletoe?

Many of us decorate with mistletoe around the Christmas holiday. It's often hung from the ceiling or over a door, with kisses offered to those who stand under it. Have you ever wondered why, though? How did mistletoe come to be associated with kissing anyway? Here’s a look at what we know, along with some other interesting trivia about what is widely considered to be the sexiest and most romantic Christmas symbol.

Read More

Kissing Is Not A Universal Sexual And Romantic Behavior Across Cultures

Kissing Is Not A Universal Sexual And Romantic Behavior Across Cultures

Many sexuality researchers and educators have claimed that kissing is a universal or near universal sexual and romantic behavior. For example, several sexuality textbooks explicitly say that kissing isn't just popular in the U.S. and other Western countries, but “it is also very common in most other societies” [1]. These claims make sense in light of research suggesting that kissing has evolutionary significance. For instance, some researchers have suggested that kissing could be adaptive to the extent that it promotes an exchange of healthy bacteria. At the same time, others have claimed that kissing might play an important role when it comes to mate choice.

However, if we truly want to make claims about the universality of kissing, we really need a large cross-cultural study to explore whether kissing actually occurs in different cultures and societies. A recent study published in the American Anthropologist does precisely this, and the results suggest that kissing may not be the universal behavior it has been previously assumed to be [2].

Read More

From Fertility Symbol to Cancer Treatment: What You Don’t Know About Mistletoe

From Fertility Symbol to Cancer Treatment: What You Don’t Know About Mistletoe

A lot of people decorate with mistletoe around the Christmas holiday. Many hang it from the ceiling or over a door and offer kisses to those who stand under it. But have you ever wondered why? How did mistletoe come to be associated with kissing in the first place? Here’s what we know, along with some other interesting trivia about what many consider to be the most romantic Christmas symbol.

Read More

Why Do We Kiss?

Why Do We Kiss?

In the United States and many other parts of the world, kissing is one of the most common sexual and romantic behaviors that exists; however, kissing is far from being a universal activity. In fact, researchers haven't found any evidence of kissing in a surprisingly large number of cultures around the world

But in those cultures where kissing occurs, why is that? I mean, how did locking lips, touching tongues, and swapping spit ever become a thing in the first place?

Read More

How Do College Students Define Sex?

How Do College Students Define Sex?

What does it actually mean to "have sex?" It depends who you ask. According to a new study published in the Journal of Sex Research, there is some pretty incredible variability in how college students personally define the term sex. There certainly seems to be a lot of agreement that things like vaginal and anal intercourse count as sex; however, students appear to be very split on whether things like oral sex and mutual masturbation count. It's also important to note that even behaviors such as breast stimulation and cybersex are viewed as sex by some folks. Check out the infographic below to learn more.

Read More

Is Kissing A Universal Sexual And Romantic Behavior Among Humans?

Is Kissing A Universal Sexual And Romantic Behavior Among Humans?

Kissing is frequently claimed to be a universal or nearly universal romantic behavior. For instance, many sexuality textbooks argue something to the effect that while kissing is common in the U.S. and other Western countries, “it is also very common in most other societies” [1]. On the surface, such claims might seem reasonable in light of research suggesting that kissing may have evolutionary significance. For instance, some scientists have argued that kissing may be adaptive because it allows for an exchange of healthy bacteria, whereas others have claimed that kissing might play an important role in mate choice. In order to make claims regarding the universality of kissing, though, what we really need is a large cross-cultural study looking at whether kissing actually occurs among different groups of people. Fortunately, such a study has just been published in the American Anthropologist, and the results suggest that kissing isn’t quite the universal behavior that has been previously assumed [2].

Read More

What’s In A Passionate Kiss? About 80 Million Bacteria

What’s In A Passionate Kiss? About 80 Million Bacteria

Some scientists have argued that kissing is an evolutionarily adaptive behavior. Their hypothesis is that, because kissing provides a mechanism for sharing certain types of bacteria and viruses, it could therefore potentially offer certain benefits, such as providing a form of immunization against viruses that might be harmful to a developing fetus (see here for more on this idea). However, there really hasn’t been any research on the biology of kissing that can speak to whether or not there is anything to back up this idea—until now. A new study just published in the journal Microbiome reveals that passionate kissing may fundamentally alter the composition of the microorganisms that colonize the insides of our mouths.

Read More

How Do You Define Cheating?

Cheating is common. For instance, among heterosexual married persons in the United States, research generally indicates that somewhere between one in four and one in five people report having cheated on their partner previously.1 However, estimates of cheating prevalence can vary widely across studies depending upon how “infidelity” is defined. It turns out that not everyone perceives the same actions in the same way. As some evidence of this, let’s examine the results of a new study in which people were asked to determine what they think constitutes cheating in a relationship.
Read More

Do Gay Men’s Sex Lives Match Up With The Stereotypes?

Do Gay Men’s Sex Lives Match Up With The Stereotypes?
There are several common stereotypes about the sex lives of gay men. One of the most prevalent is that anal sex is the primary (if not only) sexual activity that gay men practice. Another is that sex in public places (e.g., in parks a la singer George Michael) is a common occurrence. And yet one more is that gay men mostly have anonymous sex. Is there any truth to these widespread stereotypes? According to recent research, the answer is a resounding no.
Read More

Fact Check: Is the Saliva of an HIV+ Person Really a “Deadly Weapon?”

Fact Check: Is the Saliva of an HIV+ Person Really a “Deadly Weapon?”
It was recently reported in several media outlets that an HIV-positive Texas man was sentenced to 35-years in prison for spitting at a police officer. The reason? Prosecutors argued that because he was infected with HIV, his saliva constituted a “deadly weapon.” Had the man not been infected with the virus, he still would have been prosecuted for his actions, but the sentence would have been far less severe. So was this ruling justified? Is there a strong risk of disease transmission from coming into contact with the saliva of an HIV-positive person?
Read More