What does it mean to be ticklish?

I get the whole why we laugh when tickled thing but I'm certain that there is much more then reaction. I need the purpose and the cause so if anyone has any great hypothesis that would help me so much because I have been stuck on this question for YEARS and I can't seem to tie any information back to one thing so please be as much help as you can. because I am only 16 so I don't really know much here

thank you

1 Answer
Mar 28, 2018


If you are ticklish, you quickly feel uncomfortable when someone touches your skin to make you laugh.


Being ticklish is both a neurological response and a learned behaviour.

Tickling as a neurological response

Being tickled stimulates your hypothalamus which, in turn, activates your fight-or-flight and pain responses.

When someone tickles you, you may laugh, not because you are having fun, but because you are having an autonomic nervous response.

In fact, the body movements of a ticklish person are similar those of someone in pain.

The automatic response may have developed early in our evolution.

The most ticklish parts of the body (feet, chest, neck, armpits) are the most vulnerable during combat.


We laugh and squirm when we're touched there because it's an evolutionary mechanism for self-defence.

We automatically try to get the tickler's hands away from these zones,

Tickling as a learned behaviour

Babies learn to laugh in response to tickling during their first few months of life.


The one-on-one activity during tickling opens the door to other forms of social interaction.

Thus, tickling also becomes a mechanism for social bonding.


It helps forge relationships between family members, friends, and lovers.