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Friday, June 24, 2011

Tickling-why do we tickle?



Tickling is the act of touching a part of the body so as to cause involuntary twitching movements and/or laughter. The word About this sound "tickle" evolved from the Middle English tikelen, perhaps frequentative of ticken, to touch lightly. The idiom tickled pink means to be pleased or delighted.
In 1897, psychologists G. Stanley Hall and Arthur Allin described a "tickle" as two different types of phenomena.One type caused by very light movement across the skin. This type of tickle, called a knismesis, generally does not produce laughter and is sometimes accompanied by an itching sensation.
Another type of tickle is the laughter inducing, "heavy" tickle, produced by repeatedly applying pressure to "ticklish" areas, and is known as gargalesis. Such sensations can be pleasurable or exciting, but are sometimes considered highly unpleasant, particularly in the case of relentless heavy tickling. 

When touched upon the soles of the feet, for example, it feels in addition to the common sensation of touch a sensation on which we have imposed a special name, "tickling." This sensation belongs to us and not to the hand... A piece of paper or a feather drawn lightly over any part of our bodies performs intrinsically the same operations of moving and touching, but by touching the eye, the nose, or the upper lip it excites in us an almost intolerable titillation, even though elsewhere it is scarcely felt. This titillation belongs entirely to us and not to the feather; if the live and sensitive body were removed it would remain no more than a mere word.

One hypothesis, as mentioned above, is that tickling serves as a pleasant bonding experience between parent and child. However, this hypothesis does not adequately explain why many children and adults find tickling to be an unpleasant experience. Another view maintained is that tickling develops as a prenatal response and that the development of sensitive areas on the fetus helps to orient the fetus into favorable positions while in the womb.

hybrid hypothesis, has suggested that tickling encourages the development of combat skills. Most tickling is done by parents, siblings and friends and is often a type of rough-and-tumble play, during which time children often develop valuable defensive and combat moves. Although people generally make movements to get away from, and report disliking, being tickled, laughter encourages the tickler to continue. If the facial expressions induced by tickle were less pleasant the tickler would be less likely to continue, thus diminishing the frequency of these valuable combat lessons.

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