DO YOU KISS with your eyes closed?
Barring those moments where curiosity about your partner’s “kissing face” gets the better of you, of course you do — you’re not some a sociopath. If you’ve ever wondered why you seem to make that decision without conscious thought, though, you can now put your questions to rest because science has just come up with an answer.
Turns out that humans are just not that great at taking in stimuli from all of our senses at once, and we prioritize the physical sensation of kissing while we have some lips willing to kiss us, at the expense of our other senses. We automatically block out the excess noise — in this case, the visual kind.
A study on this topic was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, after the research was carried out at the University of London.
Before you get too excited and question why you’re never invited to do studies on kissing, the researchers didn’t actually make their participants kiss. Lame. But they did ask them to perform other activities to document when or why we close our eyes to focus.
The participants were asked to view a screen with flashing letters and had a vibration sent to one hand while they did so. They then had to say whether they saw the letter X or N, and if they felt a vibration in either the left or right hand. Tricky. The researchers found that the more participants were visually-overloaded, the less likely they were to correctly identify which hand the signal was sent to.
So, they concluded that if your eyes are busy, you’re going to be less sensitive to touch, whether it’s a vibration on the hand or a smooch on the lips.
Each sensory system has its own sensory neurons, and they all send a different story to the nervous system. Of course the body is capable of keeping track of all this, but it is forced to line things up from “primary task” onward. Attention switching back and forth between too many tasks slows things down enough that it affects our senses and what we do with the information that they’re giving us. We just don’t multitask as well as we like to think that we do.
If you’ve ever turned down the music in your car to focus on finding your way after Google Maps has led you astray, you know what we’re talking about. This is sort of the same concept — except of course, that kissing is way more fun.