Fireworks Exploded in My Mouth: Affective Responses Before, During, and After the Very First Kiss

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First kiss, sexuality, gender differences, affect, emotion

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For many people, the very first kiss represents a significant life event, a developmental milestone that serves to usher them into the realm of sexual maturity and adulthood. Surprisingly, this important sexual event has received little systematic scientific attention. The goal of the present descriptive study was to examine the affective reactions that commonly accompany the very first kiss. Using a free response format, participants (N = 338) described the affective responses (i.e., emotions, feelings, sentiments) they experienced before, during, and after their very first kiss. Contrary to our hypothesis, the most common responses experienced immediately prior to the kiss were subjectively unpleasant (e.g., anxiety, fear, uncertainty). Our other hypotheses were confirmed. As predicted, more men than women recalled experiencing positive affect both during and after their first kiss, and more women than men reported negative affect during and after the kiss. These gender differences are in accord with earlier research on affective reactions to other first sexual events (i.e., intercourse), and may reflect the operation of sociocultural forces that encourage men to adopt more positive attitudes than women toward sexual experience and expression. In sum, a person's very first kiss appears to evoke a shifting array of positive and negative emotions, sentiments, and feelings.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

International Journal of Sexual Health, v. 19, issue 2, p. 1-16