If you've ever opened your eyes briefly whilst in the throws of passion, playing a bit of tonsil hockey, and been confronted with the whites of the other person's staring eyes, you'll know this: it's really bloody creepy. Which is one of the reasons you don't do it; it's a life rule that kissing is done with your eyes closed. It's universally accepted, non-negotiable. Social etiquette dictates it.
But it turns out there's actually a proper scientific reason why we do it too, rather than it just being scary AF, which is that it allows us to focus on the immediate task of sticking your tongue in a person’s mouth.
Before, people thought it was because it's really difficult (and it bloody hurts) for our eyes to focus on something which is that close to us. But according to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance on vision and tactile sensory experience by cognitive psychologists Polly Dalton and Sandra Murphy at Royal Holloway, University of London, the brain finds it difficult to process other senses if it’s concentrating on visual stimuli. So, by closing our eyes when we kiss, we can more easily focus on other sensations, like touch.
This was found after participants were asked to complete a letter-searching task which varied in difficulty, whilst a small vibration was applied to one of their hands. The results showed that people were less responsive to the tactile sensation of the vibration as their eyes did more work. In other words, the more work the eyes were doing, the less they 'felt' the vibrations, which explains the whole closed-eyes-kissing thing.
Dalton highlighted the importance of their study for manufacturers too, saying that it is ‘important for designers to be aware of these effects, because auditory and tactile alerts are often used in situations of high visual demand, such as driving a car or flying an aircraft’.
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.