Fun Facts About Tickling

You Can't Tickle Yourself
Why not? Essentially, you can’t surprise your own brain. “Somewhere in your brain, a prediction is made about the sensation your hand will produce, and that prediction suppresses the tickling response.

Tickle Spots Are Universal
Where should you launch your next tickle attack? Your best bet is on the sides of the torso (from the armpits to the waist) and soles of the feet. Research on college students reported in the American Scientist found that these were the most ticklish spots. “Vulnerable areas of the body are usually the most ticklish,” Dr. Provine says, adding that other ticklish spots include external ear openings, genital regions, and breasts.

Tickling Can Be Torturous
If you hate being tickled, feel lucky that you weren’t around when tickling was used for corporal punishment. During the 16th century, a Protestant sect would tickle transgressors to death. Ancient Romans provided punishment through tickling too: They tied offenders down, soaked their feet in salt, and had goats lick it off.

Tickling Equals Flirting
From adolescence on, you’re roughly seven times more likely to be tickled by somebody of the opposite sex, according to Provine. His studies have found that the most common reason to tickle is to show affection.

You Get Tickled Less As You Age
Is tickling really just child’s play? People under age 40 are 10 times more likely to report having been tickled in the past week than people over age 40, according to Provine. One obvious explanation is that there’s simply decreased opportunity for tickling with age, as kids get older, for example. Hormonal changes may also decrease the tickle response as you age, which could make you like being tickled less.

You Can Block a Tickle Advance
How? Just place your hand on the tickler’s hand. It’s a trick doctors know well. “When doctors want to examine your belly, they’ll often ask you to place your hand on theirs,” Dr. Wang says. In doing so, you generate the same motion as the doctor, which tricks your brain into thinking that you’re the one doing the tickling.

Men Like Being Tickled More
In one of Provine’s surveys, tickling was slightly less pleasant to women than it was to men, and almost twice as many women as men ranked tickling as “very unpleasant.” This may be due to bad experiences related to non-consensual or non-reciprocal sexual touching

That Ticklish Feeling Can Be Fickle
Scientists don’t know why some people seem more ticklish than others. Provine says that the pleasure of the tickling experience is directly related to the relationship of the tickler and ticklee, which is why you might have more of a reaction in certain circumstances. A lover's ticklish touch might be pleasurable while an older brother's could feel like torture.