“I started going through my students’ Facebook profiles, with their permission, and was inundated with hundreds of photos of men kissing on their nights out,” Anderson reports.
He was intrigued, and decided to investigate further via formal research. He interviewed 145 students, a mixture of men studying sports-related subjects and every third man who left the library on a particular day, from two different universities, plus other male students from a sixth-form college. The results of his survey showed 89% of the polled men saying they were happy to kiss another man on the lips through friendship. And almost 40% added that they had engaged in “sustained kissing, initially for shock value, but now just for ‘a laugh’.”
“I started telling people about it, but found that a lot of academics literally did not believe me,” Anderson explains. “One professor excused it as ‘something in the water at Bath’ – even though the research covered three different educational establishments. Others flatly told me that they did not believe me. From their ‘adult’ perspective, this action was unfathomable. They have been stamped with attitudes of acceptable behaviour as a part of their entry into adulthood, and kissing was not permitted between men when they were young. So although they had not been in students’ clubs or pubs in 20 or more years, they assumed that nothing had changed. This is known as human plasticity theory; people are stamped with a belief system that they cannot easily shake.”