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Friday, February 14, 2003

The Kindest Kiss

Ever felt that there was some sort of fundamental injustice about the world, something that could never be put straight no matter what. I guess this thought must come to all of us at some time or another. Well after reading about Onur Gunturkun's recent project I have to admit the feeling did cross my mind, why do some people get to do all the really interesting research!! At least the 'head-tilting preferences established during the last weeks in the womb' gives me the perfect let-off next time my wife complains about me not being sufficiently romantic these days, you see the head tilt I perform as I look up from my computer to give her a kiss comes from my days in the womb (this puts me in mind of one of those old sayings about a misspent youth.....). Whatsmore, what other things about our present inclinations can we put down to all that early tilting, and even more important, just what is it that determines the tilt. And, one last thing, a happy Valentines day to you all (and especially to you Vicenta). As you can imagine this is a special day in the Bonobo calendar, and it's not too difficult to celebrate, all you have to do is tilt your head a bit, now to the left, now to the right, it's easy you'll soon get the hang of it.

Plenty of kissing occurs on Valentine's Day. And most of it will occur with a right tilt of the head. According to a report published today in the journal Nature, people are nearly twice as likely to lean right instead of left when puckering up. The findings suggest that the tendency stems from head-tilting preferences established during the last weeks in the womb. Onur Güntürkün of Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, watched lovestruck couples kissing in public places such as airports, train stations, beaches and parks in the U.S, Germany and Turkey. After setting guidelines for a scientifically valid smooch--which requires lip contact, an obvious head turn and a lack of luggage that could influence a person's movements--Güntürkün analyzed 124 kissing pairs. He found that 65 percent of the liplockers tilted their heads to the right. A similar ratio has been observed for preferential use of the right foot, hand or eye. (Right-handedness, however, is nearly eight times as popular as left-handedness, and may be mediated by different genes or influenced by cultural factors.) Because right head turns are also favored in the final weeks of gestation and among newborn babies, Güntürkün posits that this right bias develops early on and subtly influences behavior long into adulthood.
Source: Scientific American

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