I saw this article on why humans kiss, and my first thought was dread — it’s going to be another of those horrible evo psych articles, isn’t it? But to my happy surprise, it isn’t, and the article is pretty good.
The main thing that pleased me was the approach: rather than assuming that the Western habit of kissing was both natural and ancestral, they looked at other cultures: the majority don’t kiss, and some even think it’s a disgusting practice. Then they did a little comparative ethology, and noted that most mammals don’t do it, either, but some primates do…and bonobos do it more than chimpanzees. It gets a little dicey when it talks about human pheromones and that somewhat shakey study about women being able to sense MHC with their noses, but OK, it’s a possibility that kissing is just a side-effect of pheromone detection. Then they concluded that it was a fairly recent cultural innovation, primarily in Western societies.
So, actually, a kind of evo psych approach can get my approval when it involves actual comparative data, is cautious in its interpretations, and doesn’t try to justify accepted Western behavior as the ancestral norm.