What is the evolutionary reason why humans are ticklish?

Ticklish humans and animals.

There are a few ideas about why humans experience ticklishness and there are also two kinds of tickling.

One of them is a defense mechanism or warning sign that something moving is on you. Think parasites on your skin…or not, no don’t think about that. This is the kind of tickling that you feel when something soft brushes up against you, the fancy name for that is Knismesis. Usually, this type doesn’t make you laugh, it tends to give you goosebumps, bit uncomfortable too.

Another aspect of tickling has to do with the specific spots that are ticklish. These are also more intense and leads to uncontrolled laughter. The fancy name for this one a Gargalesis. This second one isn’t as straightforward as the first, and most likely serves some kind of social aspect; it helps us bond.

There are specific spots that are ticklish in this way, and those are important for parents and children to form bonds. When we grow up those same spots are also erogenous zones, helping with mating, another social activity we do.

The spots are also vulnerable areas on our bodies, this is probably no coincidence. Some think there is an aspect of tickling behavior meant to teach the younger ones to protect their vulnerable areas.

As for other animals, yes other animals tickle too. Our close cousins the chimpanzee tickles during play, though they make a more panting, out of breath, sound when they are laughing. They enjoy it, which shows by them not leaving you alone afterward because they want you to keep going.

Elephants can be tickled as well, but my favorite is the rat.

There was a study where it was someone’s job to tickle rats (that must look amazing on your resume). The researchers in question were like “come tickle rats with me”. Fun aside, this was still serious research. It was known that rats make specific high-frequency noises when they play or have sex, noises of enjoyment (kinda like laughing). When they tickled the rats they made the same noises, they were enjoying it in a similar way humans do. It activates brain areas and pathways that also light up when humans experience joy (at least, the areas analogous to ours).

but a note must be made here, we are quick to ascribe human emotions to animals which can be dangerous. Animals like chimps and rats seem to enjoy tickling, there’s reason to think they experience it positively. But not all animals are like that, and it’s not 100% they really like it that much (we can’t ask).

A tragic example of misinterpretation is the Slow Loris. These critters can be tickled, but they don’t like it. What humans interpret as enjoyment is actually fear, making the playful behavior in humans or primates literal torture for this cute looking animal.

Tickling likely serves as a warning signal and training to protect ourselves. It has a secondary feature in humans, other primates, and rats it seems, to facilitate social bonding. But be careful who you tickle, not all animals experience the same enjoyment (some humans don’t like it either).

This information was taken from Quora. Click here to view the original post.

Are you extra ticklish? Does tickling make you feel uncomfortable?

#Society #health #Quora


What are your thoughts on this subject?
Marguerite LaHaye
Interesting. I don't think it would be wise to tickle a chimpanzee, though
Jul 21, 2020 7:46PM
Michele Burke
I trained myself not to be ticklish so it ruined others fun! Lol
Apr 16, 2020 11:54PM
Laurette Pearlman
That was most enlightening.
Nov 9, 2019 3:55AM
Maggie Reed
Diane Thompson, the slow loris cannot help itself, it's an uncontrolled reaction.
Nov 2, 2019 5:23PM
Patty Tubbs
Very interesting!! I’ve never thought much about tickling before. I am ticklish but not super ticklish. My husband starts squirming and giggling just by saying the word tickle, especially on his feet.
Oct 23, 2019 8:19PM
Jimi Dawson
The bottoms of my feet are super tickleish....thus making pedicures very hard. Trying to not react, is hard, but everyone around seems to enjoy my tourture!
Sep 26, 2019 2:52PM
Trudy Berggren Rahm
Interestingly enough, we can't tickle our selves
Sep 12, 2019 7:18PM
I do not like to be tickled but my cat seems to like it.
Jul 17, 2019 12:46AM
Diane Thompson
If the Slow Loris doesn't enjoy it, why does it put up its arms and make the tickled spot available? I hate being tickled. I laugh, I don't get cross - but it's very uncomfortable so I don't know how it can be enjoyed by anyone. I love being lightly tickled - more like a soft scratch. But not the digging into the armpits and knees. That's awful. Thanks for the info. But it doesn't explain what causes the sensation and why we react to it the way we do.
May 23, 2019 6:19AM
I am very ticklish...I don't like it...
Apr 13, 2019 6:22PM
Richard Perkins
Well tickle my fancy.
Mar 7, 2019 9:35AM
Jacky Pierce Friedman
This is true. Although I know by experience that Skunks love it. So do cats and dogs.
Mar 3, 2019 5:55PM
Jacky Pierce Friedman
I'm only ticklish in one spot. And I'm not telling where lol
Mar 3, 2019 5:51PM
Elsy O. Stromberg
Never have liked being tickled.
Feb 20, 2019 2:05PM
David Roy
How are erogenous zones linked to ticklish areas? People are most ticklish on the side of their neck, under their arms, on their ribs and on the soles of their feet, not notable erogenous zones.
Jan 13, 2019 10:27AM

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