Gesture. 1. A brief or sustained tactile stimulation of the supersensitive fleshy folds around the mouth. 2. A touch delivered to one or both lips with the knuckles, fingers, or tactile pads of the fingertips, or with an object (e.g., a pencil or pen) held in the hands.
Usage: One of our most common self-touch cues, the lip-touch signals a variety of moods and mental states including anxiety, boredom, excitement, fear, horror, and uncertainty. Stimulating the lips diverts attention, e.g., from a. disturbing thoughts and b. people who may upset us. As a self-consoling gesture, the lip-touch is equivalent to infantile thumb-sucking. (!!!!!!)
Observation. In a conversation, cross-examination, or interview, the lip-touch marks a nonverbal probing point, i.e., an unexpressed feeling, opinion, or thought to be explored.
RESEARCH REPORTS: 1. With adult strangers, girls show more hand-to-mouth gestures than boys (Stern and Bender 1974:245). 2. At 3-to-6 months, babies bring most objects to the mouth to be touched and explored (Chase and Rubin 1978:186).
Neuro-notes. Touching the mouth is emotionally analgesic (i.e., helps relieve physical and psychic pain). Our brain's cerebral neocortex devotes a disproportionately large part of its surface area to fingers, hands, and lips (see HOMUNCULUS). In the mind's eye, pressing "huge" fingertips against "enormous" lips is an efficient form of acupressure.
touching my lips on 50% of my selfportraits - that's pretty interesting... ;)