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Why Do We Scream

PostPosted: 01 Nov 2013, 14:37
by Yogi
There are many occasions on which we scream, but do you know why? It seems that nobody has a good handle on the reasons for screaming. If you know of a good explanation, tell these guys about it ... :arrow: ... reams.html

Re: Why Do We Scream

PostPosted: 01 Nov 2013, 19:31
by Ice.Maiden
I think his findings so far'll be right. As with rhesus monkeys, humans scream in reaction to something. A scream for help'll hopefully bring someone to your rescue. A scream of pain's probably due to the unexpected pain you find yourself in, and I think it also acts as a comfort in some cases. Some women scream when giving birth, whilst others accept it stoically. Someone in shock may not scream at all, but fright, horror, pain and delight can all bring on the same thing.

I think it's true that screams are different by their tone or prolonged sound, depending on the situation, and others can identify with this. A screaming baby'll usually bring its mother to its side, as obviously they don't make this sound for nothing. It also attracts other females who hear it, and they'll respond by going to see if they can help.

Then you have screams of excitement. The sort we see when young people catch a glimpse of their favourite pop star or actor seems to be born out of hysteria, and pheromones emitted by crowds encourage similar action in people nearby. I DO think that it's a primeval thing, but there for a purpose.

Interesting study though.

Re: Why Do We Scream

PostPosted: 02 Nov 2013, 10:31
by Yogi
Your point about babies screaming is a good one. Why do they do it? They don't consciously think it will bring them attention or help. It's an instinct that came about as a result of evolution. The question still is, for what purpose? Exactly what does a scream do that laughing, for example, will not? I don't understand why people laugh either, by the way.

Re: Why Do We Scream

PostPosted: 03 Nov 2013, 06:55
by pilvikki

i; thinking laughter would promote bonding. notice how friends often tend to laugh at the same things/situations?

what most fascinates me are the reflex screams where a person is not aware of screaming. that's got to be truly primeval!

which brings me to my point of it being guided by our reptile brain and an involuntary action.

Re: Why Do We Scream

PostPosted: 03 Nov 2013, 07:19
by Ice.Maiden
Laughter DOES cause bonding. A scream appears to be a reaction to something, which can serve as a warning or as a "pack reaction".

The study's interesting because no one really knows what evokes these primeval sounds.

To Yogi's comment about screaming babies, again, I think it's an instinctive noise. The baby hasn't developed language to complain verbally, but if they're hungry or in discomfort/pain, I think it's nature's way of alerting the parent to its plight. A scream's more urgent than a normal cry or whimper. The more serious the situation, the more the vocal range changes.

If we bang our fingers with a hammer, we're either going to let out a yell or a stream of expletives. If a child does this, they'll probably scream the place down. Adults let out involuntary sounds when in pain or through shock/fright, etc., but we can also control this to some extent, whereas a child'll scream and howl sometimes long after the event's occurred, so perhaps as we get older we're more conditioned to having this control over our emotions?

Re: Why Do We Scream

PostPosted: 03 Nov 2013, 09:22
by Yogi
I suppose this all begs the question, "What is instinct?" It's obviously something packaged into the original equipment. Instinct are those actions that require no learning, such as suckling or screaming in this instance. I'd further speculate that as the article points out, it all boils down to self-preservation. But why does a scream mean danger and laughing means bonding? How was that decided?

Re: Why Do We Scream

PostPosted: 03 Nov 2013, 14:26
by Ice.Maiden
I agree with your take on it Yogi.

I think laughter's also an instinct. Some primates laugh to show pleasure, yet screech in usison when they make a kill.

The type of sounds made were probably to communicate before speech developed properly.

A cat'll purr when it's content, yet has a good range of warning vocals. So do dogs, by producing different types of growls and barks. Body language comes into play as well. Even humans have defensive stances, such as avoiding eye contact, the folding of arms across the body, etc.

Some animals flatten their ears when frightened or angry, and tail wags can indicate looming danger, such as when deer warn their counterparts. these are what I'd call instinctive actions, carried in the genes as a means of survival and communication.

Laughter's hard to define. It can bond people though. We've all been in company where one person bursts into laughter, which encourages a similar reaction from those in the group. We often laugh at THEM laughing, and it's a "known" sound connected to happiness and amusement.

However, we also understand "fake laughter", or when someone laughs at someone else's expense. Depending on the nature of the person laughing, and what they're laughing AT, the rest of us seem to pick up on that quite easily. Sometimes it makes others laugh alongside them, but that's another bonding mechanism to show that they share - or want to be seen to share - the same sense of humour, and be accepted.

When you get a whole group of people sharing laughter, it produces a feel-good sense of being and sharing. There are many different types of laughter though - nervous, menacing, amused, sarcastic or sardonic, and whilst everyone has their own particular sense of humour, the sort which produces gales of mirth from within a group's usually associated with something pleasant and genuinely funny.

Now tell me why a baby chuckles away? They're probably reacting to the sounds and expressions of those around them - copying - but a laughing baby's a happy one ... unless it smiles when it has wind! : )