Reasons Why People Are Ticklish

4 min read

Tickling is one of those strangely delightful things that most of us enjoy! It will have you wiggling, giggling and curling in bursts of contagious laughter! Tickling is a universal way to lighten the mood.

Some people despise tickling. It doesn’t matter what you do; you can’t get them to smile by tickling them. It will only make them angry, annoyed, and miserable.

Have you ever considered that this is normal and we are all just different?

Medical News Today says, “some people are more sensitive to touch than others, so skin sensitivity can play a role in how ticklish a person is.”

Similarly, some people are emotionally sensitive and are in tune with your feelings, while others are insensitive and have no clue!

What is a tickle?


Let’s see what the experts say about the fascinating science of tickling!

“As with any sensory experience, people have different levels of sensitivity,” says Alicia Walf, Ph.D., senior lecturer in cognitive science at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York.

Walf says tickling, “activates your nerve endings in the skin for pain and sensory receptors, that are sensitive to light, touch, and pressure.”

Signals then go to the part of the brain that identifies touch, causing the brain to address the way it feels, whether good or bad. The brain then prompts you to giggle reflexively at that sense of touch–a tickle!

Two types of tickle

Science Tickling

Tickling is in a two-group category. First, there is the Gargalesis. This type is the one that we are most acquainted with. It’s when someone touches us in sensitive areas of the body repeatedly to cause unrestrained laughter. It cannot be self-induced. Places on the body that react to this form of tickling are the neck, sides, feet, stomach and armpits.

The other form of tickle is Knismesis. This tickling is caused by light motion on the body that doesn’t generally bring laughter. It can be like a feather brushing against the skin. Some people find this itchy and irritating or tingly. One reason this form does not induce laughter is it can be self-induced. And it is well known that you cannot tickle yourself. For the expected results, you need that surprise element.

Hyper-sensitive people


The experts believe that people whose five senses are naturally more heightened than other people are also more naturally sensitive to tickling. Some people will tell you that they are smelling aromas or fragrances that you don’t. There are also people out there who are super-tasters. So it is believed that these people are more sensitive to tickling because of their already heightened sensibilities.

Why some laugh when anticipating a tickle

Anticipating Tickle

Many people begin giggling when they know a tickle is coming on! The anticipation is so high for some, they inadvertently invite a chase, and the tickling fun begins! But why does this happen?

It does not take an expert to tell us that this happens with someone with who we are familiar and comfortable. Not a complete stranger. Experts say that the theory behind this is that we recall other feelings of being tickled by a family member or friends at that exact moment before the tickling begins. That may prompt the eruption to giggle, which always puts you in a good mood.

Why some people loath tickling

Angry Person

A person with loss of feeling in a particular section of the body or who has damaged nerves that are desensitized may not be ticklish. However, this person might still be emotionally sensitive. He or she may hate being the target of unsuccessful tickling. This person would be less likely to experience that pleasurable tickling response that the rest of us are accustomed to.

Does it mean that you are ticklish because you laugh?


Not everyone who breaks out into laughter at tickling means that they are ticklish! It does not mean that they enjoy it either! Some scientists believe that tickling laughter is the body’s way of mimicking pleasure and not really experiencing it.

Scientists also think that tickling is associated with a bonding instinct that develops over time from childhood. People will likely react positively to one person’s tickling and neglect another. For example, you may find it likable when a lover tickles you but absolutely hate when someone else does it.

There is Still More to Know


Luminaries and people as a whole are consistently pondering the enduring mystery behind tickling. Uncovering what makes people tickle in different areas is a fascinating, ongoing study. A handful of scientists at the University of California, San Diego, and other interested researchers are now seriously probing this ticklish matter.

In the 1800s, Charles Darwin and his colleagues took a bold step. A step to begin the first theories about the sensitive matter of tickling. And here we are 200 years later, still searching for all of the answers.

The human senses are alive and alert as they were back when Darwin became intrigued. He must have been ticklish! The senses still hold many secrets that scientists will continue to search out.