People tend to have pretty strong opinions about locking lips out in public. Some are all about that PDA, while others would NEVER be caught publicly smooching, and don’t understand what compels someone to do so. Luckily, scientists are on the case.
In a study published in The Journal of Sex Research, researchers set out to figure out why some people are into intense forms of PDA. For the study, researchers recruited 155 female and 194 male college students to fill out an online questionnaire about public displays of affection. In the questionnaire, participants were quizzed on what the scientists called “performative making out,” i.e. making out and wanting other people to see it all go down.
Here’s what they found: While most people weren’t into making out in public, 32 percent of women and 37 percent of men in the study said they’d done it.
The researchers also searched for major themes in the data and found some pretty fascinating reasons for smooching in the open. Among women, 55 percent wanted to be seen with men to make other people jealous, 34 percent wanted to signify a relationship, and 30 percent did so to enhance their image. For men, it was much more about boosting their image: 59 percent reported that was the primary reason they’d lock lips in public. Thirty-eight percent said they did so simply to prove they could, while only 20 percent wanted to show a relationship.
The researchers didn’t stop at simply sussing out motivations—they also sought to uncover how these men and women felt PDA affected their reputations. Men said that their reps were enhanced (57 percent) more often than damaged (14 percent) by a public makeout sesh—but, sadly, women said the opposite. In fact, 39 percent of women felt PDA affected others’ perception of them negatively. The researchers point out how messed up this is, noting that the findings “highlight gender differences consistent with problematic cultural belief systems such as ‘slut shaming,’ victim blaming, and sexual double standards.”
Sure, making out in public isn’t for everyone and not everyone is thrilled to see it go down. But if you happen to get lost in the moment, and have a serious lip-lock with someone you’re into, there’s absolutely no reason why you should be judged for it—especially not on the basis of your gender.
This originally appeared on Women’s Health
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