Kissing helps us assess potential partners if, like a Jane Austen heroine, we cannot wait forever for Mr. Darcy to come along, a study suggests.
Scientists believe kissing helps people judge the quality of a potential mate through taste, smell and fitness.
Women were found to value kissing more highly in long-term relationships.
An online survey of 900 adults by the Oxford team, published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, showed that men and women who were more attractive were more selective in choosing mates, and those groups valued kissing more highly.
This suggests that kissing helps in sizing up a potential partner, the study says.