Three Takes on Tickling


Three Takes on Tickling

Research that merits your attention

compiled by B. Vanatian, AIR staff

Here are three reports about research that delves into the mysteries of tickling. (Thanks to Dany Adams for bringing them to our attention.)

Tickling (preliminary)

"Preliminary Observations on Tickling Oneself," L. Weiskrantz, J. Elliott, C. Darlington, Nature, vol. 230, no. 5296, April 1971, pp. 598-9.

Tickling (still preliminary)

"Relations Between Tickling and Humorous Laughter: Preliminary Support for the Darwin-Hecker Hypothesis," A.J. Fridlund and J.M. Loftis, Biological Psychology, vol. 30, no. 2, April 1990, pp. 141-50. The authors, who are at University of California, Santa Barbara, explain that:

Following hypotheses by Darwin and Hecker on the connection between tickling and humorous laughter, questionnaire data were collected from 100 college students regarding their reported ticklishness and tendencies to laugh and show responses ancillary to laughter. Ticklishness was related to propensities to: (a) giggle, (b) laugh, (c) smile, (d) piloerect, (e) blush, and (f) cry. These findings lend preliminary support for the Darwin-Hecker conjecture that reflexes underlying ticklishness mediate humor. We speculate on possible relations among tickling and humor, and reasons why people laugh and smile when they find things funny.

Tickling (a guess)

"Tickle -- The Itch That Moves. A Psychophysiological Hypothesis," T. Mintz, Psychosomatic Medicine, vol. 29, no. 6, November-December 1967, pp. 606-11.

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