Kissing is kind of like clockwork: You lean forward, close your eyes, pucker up, and plant a smooch on the person you like. But have you ever wondered why, exactly, we don’t look at one another in the eyes when we lock lips?
Etiquette-wise, many people find it creepy (if not downright rude) when their kissing partner keeps his or her eyes open. However, a new study on vision and tactile sensory experience may lend a plausible scientific explanation for why we kiss with closed eyes, IFL Science reports.
University of London researchers Sandra Murphy and Polly Dalton published their findings in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. The scientists weren’t trying to learn about our kissing behaviors (nor did they test smooching subjects in a lab); they instead were simply trying to find out more about how humans process the sense of touch.
The scientists had study participants watch a screen with flashing letters and instructed them to note when they saw the letter X or N. At the same time, the subjects were told to pay attention to whether they felt a vibration sent to their left or right hand. As the letter sequencing got more confusing, the subjects were less likely to notice the vibrations.
If you’re taking in lots of visual stimuli, the researchers found, you’re less likely to be able to notice touch. "These results could explain why we close our eyes when we want to focus attention on another sense," Dalton told The Independent. "Shutting out the visual input leaves more mental resources to focus on other aspects of our experience."
As IFL Science points out, this study did not set out to de-mystify the mechanisms behind making out, nor did its findings yield any conclusive answers for why we close our eyes when we do so. However, it’s certainly a compelling theory. Now, if scientists could only agree on why we kiss in the first place…