Tickling: A Path to Unexpected Pleasures

Summary: A new study explores tickling in a sexual context, revealing its role in sexual arousal and satisfaction for some individuals. The research surveyed 719 participants, uncovering that tickling can lead to sexual satisfaction and, in some cases, orgasms.

This study challenges traditional views by highlighting the diversity of experiences that contribute to sexual pleasure, with findings suggesting a significant portion of individuals find tickling a sexually fulfilling act. The study also notes the impact of childhood experiences on the development of a tickle fetish, underscoring tickling’s complex role in adult sexuality.

Key Facts:

  1. The study is the first to investigate tickling in a sexual context, finding that it can lead to sexual satisfaction and even orgasms for some.
  2. Nearly half of the respondents can achieve sexual satisfaction without tickling, while a quarter reported orgasms exclusively through tickling.
  3. Childhood experiences, including the depiction of tickling in cartoons, were noted as influential in the development of a tickle fetish for some individuals.

Source: University Medical Center Mainz

Most people laugh when they are tickled. But there are also individuals for whom tickling or being tickled triggers sexual arousal. This sexual preference is referred to as a tickle fetish or knismolagnia.

“Previous studies on ticklishness have mainly focused on the sensory consequences and playful aspects of tickling. In our study, we investigated the role of tickling in a sexual context for the first time.

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Relevant childhood experiences, such as the depiction of tickling in cartoons, played a decisive role in some of the respondents developing a tickling fetish later on. Credit: Neuroscience News

“In doing so, we are challenging previous findings because the range of experiences that lead to sexual pleasure is much wider than previously recognized,” explained Dr. Shimpei Ishiyama, Head of the Neurogelotology Research Group at the Institute of Pathophysiology at the University Medical Center Mainz.

The Mainz research group is investigating the neuronal background of laughter and positive experiences. In their current study on tickling in the context of adult sexuality, the scientists identified different roles in the interaction (tickler, tickled) as well as different tickling methods and intensities.

Most of the 719 study participants stated that tickling can satisfy them sexually. Almost half of the respondents reported being able to achieve sexual satisfaction without tickling. A quarter of respondents, on the other hand, said that they experienced orgasms exclusively through tickling.

Another interesting result of the study: Relevant childhood experiences, such as the depiction of tickling in cartoons, played a decisive role in some of the respondents developing a tickling fetish later on.

“Tickling is an intimate activity that requires a certain level of mutual trust. It can bond individuals and serve as an outlet for sexual energy. Future studies should therefore investigate the mechanisms by which tickling triggers sexual pleasure.

“Our study results could pave the way for this further research into human sexuality,” says Dr. Ishiyama.

About this psychology and sexuality research news

Author: Barbara Reinke
Source: University Medical Center Mainz
Contact: Barbara Reinke – University Medical Center Mainz
Image: The image is credited to Neuroscience News

Original Research: Open access.
Tickle Fetishism: Pleasure Beyond Playfulness” by Shimpei Ishiyama et al. Frontiers in Psychology


Tickle Fetishism: Pleasure Beyond Playfulness

Tickling is commonly perceived as juvenile play associated with laughter. However, its potential connection to adult sexual behavior has largely remained unexplored.

Our online survey, primarily distributed among individuals interested in tickle fetishism, explored tickling and its association with sexual behavior. Ticklishness types, tools, preferred body parts, and partner preferences, were examined.

Results revealed diverse patterns of ticklishness changes over time and distinct body-part preferences for different types of tickling. Childhood experiences and exposure to tickling content in television were found to shape individuals’ affinity for tickle fetishism.

A quarter of respondents reported experiencing orgasms exclusively from tickling, while around 88% expressed sexual satisfaction through tickling alone, indicating its sufficiency as a sexual stimulus among fetishists.

Tickling desire decreased after orgasm, indicating an association between tickling and sexual activity. Moreover, ticklishness degree predicted preferences for being tickled rather than tickling others.

Exploratory factor analysis identified three factors underlying tickling and sexual experiences: enjoyment and frequency of tickling during sexual activity; preference for intense sexual experiences; age of becoming sexually active.

In conclusion, this study provides unique insights into tickling and its connections to sexual context, enhancing our understanding of diverse human sexual behavior and tickle fetishism as a distinct preference.

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