Episode 19: The Science of Kissing, and How to Be a Better Kisser

January 28, 2021 by Justin Lehmiller

Sex and Psychology Podcast
Sex and Psychology Podcast
Episode 19: The Science of Kissing, and How to Be a Better Kisser

Kissing is one of the most common sexual and romantic activities, and it’s often people’s very first partnered sexual experience. Surprisingly, though, kissing is something that is rarely studied by sex researchers—and when it is, it’s often lumped in with affectionate behaviors, like cuddling and hand-holding, rather than sexual behaviors. So what do we know about kissing? For example, what is it that makes a kiss good or bad? And can science teach us how to become better kissers?

In this episode of the podcast, I did a deep dive into the science of kissing with Dr. Ashley Thompson, who is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Minnesota Duluth. She has published more than 40 academic papers on sexual and romantic relationships spanning a wide range of topics, including infidelity, consensual non-monogamy, gender, kissing, and more.

Questions addressed in this episode include:

  • How often do people in romantic relationships kiss on average?
  • When do people usually have their very first kiss? And how do they tend to look back on that experience? Does it make us smile—or cringe?
  • Why do we kiss? What are the primary motivations for kissing, and how do they differ across gender and personality?
  • How important is kissing, and what are the potential benefits of it?
  • Is the first kiss in a relationship really a make-or-break moment, as it is so often depicted in the media? How important is that first kiss, really?
  • What makes a kiss good? What makes a kiss bad?
  • Can you learn to become a better kisser? What does science tell us about good kissing?

To learn more about Dr. Thompson and her work, check out her website here. Also, be sure to follow her on Twitter @psycashley.


Want to learn more about Sex and Psychology? Click here for previous articles or follow the blog on Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit to receive updates. You can also follow Dr. Lehmiller on YouTube and Instagram.

Listen and stream all episodes on Apple, Spotify, Google, or Amazon. Subscribe to automatically receive new episodes and please rate and review the podcast!

Credits: LEGIT Audio (Podcast editing) and Shutterstock/Florian (Music). Image created with Canva; photos and book covers used with guest permission.


Post Featured Image
Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

Read full bio >