The Laughter of Ticklishness Is a Darwinian Feature Related to Empathy in Both Genders: Self-Esteem in Men and Sexism in Women


The theory of false alarm for laughter could explain the involuntary laugh when someone is tickled. To put this hypothesis to the test, we handed out a questionnaire (180 items) with two hundred university students. Our main results are: In women who like being tickled, we discover components related to pleasure, erotism, feeling of affection, arousal, uncontrollability, domination, sexism and Darwinian (golden ratio) and psychological traits (empathy, low schizotypy and external locus of control) that are not present in the laughter at a stumble. The relation of both types of laughter with sense of humor is also differential. In men who like being tickled, we discover components related to masturbation, sexual fantasies, erotism, arousal, domination, sexist humour and Darwinian (square chin, feeling of masculinity) and psychological traits (empathic stress, low schizotypy, external locus of control and overall self-esteem). The relationship between being tickled and self-esteem shows a double aspect in men: It is positive in men who like being tickled and negative in men who do not like being tickled. For women there is not a relationship between self-esteem and tickling. Our conclusion is that laughter of ticklishness is a Darwinian feature related to empathy.


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V. Juárez-Ramos, E. Salazar-López, M. Artacho, K. Chmielowiec, A. Riquelme, J. Fernández-Gómez, A. Fernández-Ramirez, A. Vicente de Haro, A. Miranda, M. Caballero, B. Machado, A. Hernández and E. Milán, "The Laughter of Ticklishness Is a Darwinian Feature Related to Empathy in Both Genders: Self-Esteem in Men and Sexism in Women," Open Journal of Medical Psychology, Vol. 3 No. 1, 2014, pp. 18-23. doi: 10.4236/ojmp.2014.31002.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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