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Scientists have discovered why we close our eyes to kiss

Meagan Morris is an entertainment and lifestyle journalist living in New York City. In addition to SheKnows, Morris contributes to many publications including The New York Times, Yahoo! News, PopEater, NBC New York and Spinner. Follow he...

New study shows that we close our eyes to kiss because it's easier to concentrate

I have this habit that those close to me find annoying.

During conversations, I tend to look away and concentrate on a fixed object — curtains, walls, anything — while the other person talks. We've always been taught that breaking eye contact is a sign of disrespect; for me, it's a sign that I'm really listening.

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And it turns out there's a reason for that — and it also explains why we involuntarily close our eyes while kissing.

More specifically, researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London (RHU), studied how visual stimulus interferes with the senses. For the study, 16 volunteers performed a letter search task with varying levels of difficulty. At the same time, they had to react to a short vibration applied to their right or left hand. The results? Those who had the more difficult search task had less sensitivity to the vibration.

In simpler terms: They couldn't concentrate on two things at one time.

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"It was already known that increasing the demands of a visual task could reduce noticing of visual and auditory stimuli," study author Dr. Sandra Murphy, a postdoctoral psychology research associate at RHU, said in a press release. "Our research extends this finding to the sense of touch."

While they didn't directly apply this to kissing, it does seem to indicate why we close our eyes — it's just too difficult to multitask.

"Our research found that engaging in a more demanding visual task reduced people's sensitivity to tactile sensations," researcher Polly Dalton told Medical Daily. "This does imply that reducing visual demands (for example, by shutting your eyes) can improve tactile awareness, and this could be one of the reasons that people shut their eyes when kissing."

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It also explains — at least to me — why I have to concentrate on a fixed object instead of someone's eyes while talking. The next time someone mentions it I'm just going to hit them with this science. Or just start kissing them. That should shut them up.

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