Philematology, The Scientific Study of Kissing

Philematology has discovered that humans are not the only species that kisses. Other animals, such as bonobos, also do it! Today, we'll tell you more about the fascinating study of kissing.
Philematology, The Scientific Study of Kissing
Leonardo Biolatto

Written and verified by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Kissing is one of the most pleasurable actions for many people. In virtually all cultures, kissing is a way of showing love or affection. It’s an act so simple and, at the same time, so complex, that there’s an entire field of science dedicated to it. Having said that, we’re going to look at philematology: the study of kissing.

Philematology isn’t only the science that studies kissing, it’s also in charge of finding out the reactions that kissing produces in our whole body.

For example, it studies what hormones we release, what sensations kissing produces, and even what benefits kissing offers to our health. Experts estimate that kissing’s been a very typical gesture among humans since before 2500 BC.

There are many different types of kisses, and also many interesting facts that this science has discovered about the act of kissing. Therefore, in this article, we’ll explain what philematology consists of and also share the most interesting data that it’s provided.

What has philematology revealed about kissing?

Philematology studies more than just kissing itself. It looks for the reasons why we kiss, the history of this gesture, and its cultural significance. Likewise, it classifies the different types of kisses and the physical and mental reactions that take place.

Philematology even investigates whether kissing appears in animal species other than humans. Thanks to all the studies that have been carried out, we know that many other animals kiss. For example, elephants or bonobos, although in a slightly different way.

The truth is that the reason why we kiss isn’t very well known. In every culture, kissing expresses different things, from love and passion to simple friendship or affection. It’s also used as a greeting, a ritual, or to express respect for someone.

All these contexts make Philematology even more interesting. Currently, one of the theories of this science is that kissing helps us to find the right partner. The idea is that, in saliva, certain substances increase or decrease attraction between people.

A small boy kissing his dad on the cheek.
The kiss has different connotations according to each culture.

You may be interested in: 10 Techniques to Make You a Better Kisser

What does Philematology say about hormones?

A study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania revealed the set of reactions triggered by kissing. It turns out that a series of chemical changes occur in the brain that lead to the release of different hormones.

When kissing, first of all, cortisol levels are reduced. This is the hormone most closely related to the feeling of stress. In addition, kissing causes the release of testosterone, which is responsible for increasing sexual desire in both sexes.

Similarly, the concentration of dopamine and oxytocin increases. Both are related to feelings of love and affection. On the other hand, it seems that, when we kiss, it sensitizes the nerve endings of the lips.

Therefore, the entire gesture is surrounded by pleasure. At the same time, some scientists claim that saliva’s a defining factor. They believe that it can provide information about the degree of a couple’s fertility, according to whether it contains a greater or lesser amount of testosterone or estrogens.

A woman lifting her foot in the air as she kisses her parther.
According to some studies, kissing could be a factor that influences the choice of partner.

You might like: You Can’t Force Children to Kiss in Greeting

What are the benefits of kissing?

As we’ve already mentioned, kissing can help reduce stress. But this isn’t the only benefit it produces in our health. According to the study of kissing, when we kiss, we activate about 34 muscles of the face and about 112 of the whole body due to our posture.

The act of activating so many facial muscles reduces the appearance of wrinkles due to aging. Experts also estimate that, when we kiss, we burn around 6.4 calories per minute. In addition, it helps strengthen our immune system, accelerates our heart rate, and gives us a feeling of pleasure.

At the same time, the hormones that are released also help to reduce the sensation of pain. Thanks to philematology, we know more and more about the benefits of kissing. Therefore, it’s just as important to continue researching about it as it is to put it into practice!

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Alpert, J. S. (2013, June). Philematology: The science of kissing. A message for the marital month of June. American Journal of Medicine, 126(6), 466.
  • Filematología – EcuRed. (n.d.). Retrieved March 3, 2020, fromía
  • Wlodarski, R., & Dunbar, R. I. M. (2013). Examining the possible functions of kissing in romantic relationships. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42(8), 1415–1423.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.