Laura’s Psychology Blog

One Professor’s Observations of the World of Psychology….   

February 2, 2008

Super Bowl Sunday….

Filed under: Football,Hobbies,Psychology — Laura Freberg @ 7:25 pm

Although I’m really more of a college football fan than a pro football fan, one can hardly overlook the Super Bowl. The team I root for (New Orleans–don’t ask me why, I just think they need to win after Hurricane Katrina) was out fairly early, so I really don’t have a favorite between the Patriots and Giants.


You have to love the Patriots for just being that good, although the continuing SpyGate saga tarnishes an otherwise stellar record. We commented earlier on the silliness of someone with Bill Belichick’s talent resorting to underhanded strategies.

There is also something very human about rooting for the underdog. I also like the fact (and this is really roundabout) that Eli Manning is Peyton Manning’s brother, and Peyton played for Tennessee, where my daughter is a grad student….

Actually, it is sometimes more fun for me to watch a game where I really don’t have strong feelings about who I want to win. You can just sit back and enjoy the talent on the field without groaning at every busted play or interception.

We’ll be enjoying the game without some of the usual traditions. Mr. F fixed an outstanding beef stroganoff today, so that’s my splurge for the week. Jenny lets me have an afternoon snack of 4 (count them, 4) cashews, 12 low-fat Wheat Thins, and a BabyBel cheese. And I’ll be having coffee or water instead of alcohol, of course. Still, this only happens once a year, and I plan to sit back and have fun.

May the best team win!



Why we kiss….

Filed under: Biological Psychology,General Psychology,Psychology — Laura Freberg @ 7:06 pm

It’s not Valentine’s Day yet, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to post about Chip Walter’s article in Scientific American called “Affairs of the Lips: Why We Kiss.”

According to Walter, ethologist Desmond Morris (who wrote The Naked Ape among other interesting books) suggested that human kissing evolved from a practice found in primate mothers, who may have pre-chewed food for their infants and then fed them mouth-to-mouth. Subsequently, pressing lips even without food may have provided a signal of comfort and love.

Whether our lips were influenced by the practice of kissing or not, they certainly have more than their fair share of sensitivity, as you may have noticed if you have ever had a paper cut from licking an envelope. Kissing also effects our biochemistry. Wendy Hill and Carey Wilson found that two substances, oxytocin and cortisol, were influenced by kissing. Cortisol levels, which usually rise when we’re alert or stressed, drop when couples kiss, talk, or hold hands. Oddly enough, oxytocin levels increased for males after kissing, but dropped in females. Oxytocin has been implicated in a number of social bonding activities, including orgasm and nursing an infant. Obviously, more research needs to happen in this area to see why men and women are reacting differently.

How important is kissing? Gordon Gallup and his colleagues argue that a first kiss is really important to people. Fifty-eight percent of men and 66 percent of women recalled an instance where they ended a promising relationship because the first kiss didn’t “feel right.” However, these same researchers argued that kissing means very different things to men and women. Men viewed kissing as a step towards more sexual activity, whereas women viewed kissing as a bonding mechanism.

Science has a way of making some very romantic things seem less so by dissecting them. I’m not sure if this is useful information for you, but apparently most people tilt their heads to the right in order to kiss (check out Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh above). The advantage for such laterality seems to be mysterious, but we can guess that brain laterality plays a role.

Here’s another interesting factoid from Walter–apparently about 10 percent of the world’s population do not kiss. I guess they don’t know what they’re missing.



Quote to Ponder

It is not a lack of love,
but a lack of friendship
that makes unhappy marriages
-------- Nietzsche

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