The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 03-06-2008, 06:21 PM
Squarebubble1 Squarebubble1 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Why do females giggle for no apparant reason?

At the risk of sounding sexist, males don't generally giggle - let's establish that up front. (The only examples that I can think of are the Joker and Drew Carey...)

Teenage girls, by my lifelong observations, seem to giggle over EVERYTHING. (Unfortunately, some never grow out of it...not too long ago on the news, a middle-aged woman who just lost her home, husband and infant son couldn't keep from "tee-hee"-ing throughout the 30 seconds or so.) I can understand looking at the positive side of life, but to incessantly giggle strikes me as mentally unbalanced. Any theories/comments? (Especially from females who do this.) By the way, guys don't think giggling is cute at ANY age...I did have a girlfriend who used to do it "just to piss guys off".
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 03-06-2008, 06:57 PM
drachillix drachillix is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Squarebubble1
Unfortunately, some never grow out of it...not too long ago on the news, a middle-aged woman who just lost her home, husband and infant son couldn't keep from "tee-hee"-ing throughout the 30 seconds or so.
I used to work with one of these, I always felt that it was an attempt at, "I'm so cute and if I am cute everyone will give me my way and not blame me for anything because I am so cute", kind of thing.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 03-06-2008, 07:15 PM
astro astro is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
It's simply a nervous tic some people have as part of the way they speak. Some women giggle when under stress, not because something is funny.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 03-06-2008, 07:21 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by drachillix
I used to work with one of these, I always felt that it was an attempt at, "I'm so cute and if I am cute everyone will give me my way and not blame me for anything because I am so cute", kind of thing.
Well, in those circumstances it could be nervousness - on TV in bad circumstances and all.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 03-06-2008, 07:36 PM
Koxinga Koxinga is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
I theorize it has some correlation with how very little girls SCREEEEECH at the top of the lungs when they're excited about something. Little boys don't do that, or do it as much, do they?
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 03-06-2008, 07:36 PM
Yllaria Yllaria is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Stockton
Posts: 7,933
All of my children (now grown) are boys. I can tell you, boys giggle. According to my parents, they giggled more than me and my sisters ever did. Their voices got deeper as they got older, at which point we could call it chuckling. They don't do it quite as much now, because they're large and in charge. So it can be suppressed, socially, but both sexes do it when young.

I'm trying to remember where I read this, but the memory it too vague: most laughter does not happen because something is funny. It's a group solidarity thing. Much taping of groups went into the study's researchers deciding that. If you get along with you co-workers, they will present comments in a certain tone of voice and you'll laugh at it. They you'll do the presenting and they'll laugh.

Giggling would be a submissive form of this, or a pseudo-submissive form of this. I'm guessing that women who giggle either are more likely to be in non-dominant positions or have social imprinting that supports the display. And, of course, women have higher pitched voices, which will always be perceived as less dominant and therefor more giggle-like.

And I'll agree that people often laugh under stress. That's when you'd be feeling the need for group support and that sort of laughter is asking to be included into a group and protected.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 03-06-2008, 07:59 PM
Miss Purl McKnittington Miss Purl McKnittington is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koxinga
I theorize it has some correlation with how very little girls SCREEEEECH at the top of the lungs when they're excited about something. Little boys don't do that, or do it as much, do they?
Little boys don't do the high-pitched scream as much, but they do bellow and shout everything at the tops of their lungs more frequently than little girls. The little girls I know are much better at using "inside voices" while the little boys are more likely to forget that their request to go to the bathroom doesn't need to fill the room. As a whole, though, little kids are just plain loud.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 03-06-2008, 08:21 PM
Hostile Dialect Hostile Dialect is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
My dad will say something terrible about someone or something (sometimes the person he's talking to) and then force out a laugh, as if to make it seem not as bad. Remember the paramilitia gun nut in Bowling for Columbine who Mr. Moore interviewed in the guy's house and who would say something really wacko about the government and then force out a laugh? Just like that. It's really creepy.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 03-06-2008, 08:33 PM
Walpurgis Walpurgis is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
I think the giggling is evenly spread between the sexes, we just call it different things depending on who's giggling. Like someone else said above - a lower-pitched giggle is more often called a chuckle. As a recent example, I spent three hours in a bus with a gang of teen boys a few days ago. There was no end to the (often manic) giggling.

So I think it's a question of semantics, really.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 03-06-2008, 09:24 PM
SharkB8 SharkB8 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Inside joke.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 03-06-2008, 11:19 PM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Troynovant
Posts: 5,089
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grammanaut
I think the giggling is evenly spread between the sexes, we just call it different things depending on who's giggling. Like someone else said above - a lower-pitched giggle is more often called a chuckle. As a recent example, I spent three hours in a bus with a gang of teen boys a few days ago. There was no end to the (often manic) giggling.

So I think it's a question of semantics, really.
I agree. I'm a male and I was prone to nervous giggling at times as a teenager (and I wasn't alone among my male friends in this). It usually came upon me at times when I knew it would be disastrous to giggle, and that alone would be enough to bring it on. (As a young soldier on the parade ground, at a funeral, etc., the more inappropriate the harder it was to stop).
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 03-06-2008, 11:22 PM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Howdy
Posts: 14,328
Boy giggles (chuckles) are also more often reserved for when we've been mischievous. As you age, the chances to be mischievous become more rare.

*teehee*
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 03-06-2008, 11:25 PM
lobotomyboy63 lobotomyboy63 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
I'd like to know why after some girls/women laugh hard, they "fan" themselves.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 03-07-2008, 05:29 AM
Nava Nava is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by astro
It's simply a nervous tic some people have as part of the way they speak. Some women giggle when under stress, not because something is funny.
Yup. I've known men who laughed under stress. Maybe men don't giggle, but the nervous mechanism is the same.


Middlebro's childhood screeches were high-pitched and loud enough to send out poor canary into epileptic-style fits on the floor of its cage.


lobotomyboy63, often when I laugh real hard (my-sides-hurt hard), I feel hot - sometimes I even sweat. Which is kind of weird, as I can be out in 40C and not break into a sweat. The fanning is an instinctive response to cool down (it doesn't quite make rational sense, since I'm probably not hot to a thermometer, but I do feel hot).

Last edited by Nava; 03-07-2008 at 05:34 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 03-07-2008, 07:40 AM
beowulff beowulff is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Scottsdale, more-or-less
Posts: 10,653
I used to work with a guy who would laugh in the same places that some people say "you know" or "umm." Think of Dr. Hibbert on The Simpsons. He was very irritating to be around...
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 03-07-2008, 08:09 AM
Athena Athena is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 1999
Location: da UP, eh
Posts: 12,366
Quote:
Originally Posted by Squarebubble1
At the risk of sounding sexist, males don't generally giggle - let's establish that up front. (The only examples that I can think of are the Joker and Drew Carey...)


Every boyfriend I've ever had giggled. Trust me, I know how to make 'em giggle.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 03-07-2008, 08:20 AM
Skara_Brae Skara_Brae is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by aldiboronti
I agree. I'm a male and I was prone to nervous giggling at times as a teenager (and I wasn't alone among my male friends in this). It usually came upon me at times when I knew it would be disastrous to giggle, and that alone would be enough to bring it on. (As a young soldier on the parade ground, at a funeral, etc., the more inappropriate the harder it was to stop).
Ah, the giggle loop...

Last edited by Skara_Brae; 03-07-2008 at 08:20 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 03-07-2008, 08:29 AM
Ravenman Ravenman is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 14,016
Quote:
Originally Posted by Athena
Every boyfriend I've ever had giggled. Trust me, I know how to make 'em giggle.
Did you ever try to make them giggle, and instead they chuckled? That wouldn't be good.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 03-07-2008, 08:39 AM
Trunk Trunk is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
No one can ever say men and women are different about anything around here.

Giggling Christ on a giggle stick. . .no one is saying "why do women like to be irrational?" It's f'n giggling. I swear if someone said "why do women get pre-menopausal", someone would say, "I know a lot of men who get cranky every month and no one blames it on their hormones."

No shit SOME men giggle. No sane person who pays attention think that boys, as a group, giggle as much as girls do, and it's not a question of semantics.

Anyway, for anyone really interested in laughter, there was a great podcast recently by the radiolab people on the subject, and a female researcher actually touched on the notion of giggling girls (THE HORROR). The male host actually asked her (paraphrasing) "aren't you playing into the stereotype of the giggling girls" and the researchers response was basically, "well, whatcha gonna do?"

And, yes, apparently rats laugh, and can get addicted to tickling, if anyone was wondering about that.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 03-08-2008, 01:23 PM
Squarebubble1 Squarebubble1 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koxinga
I theorize it has some correlation with how very little girls SCREEEEECH at the top of the lungs when they're excited about something. Little boys don't do that, or do it as much, do they?
I'm with you on that one; also, kids who keep asking "why" after everything an adult tells them...
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 03-08-2008, 01:28 PM
Squarebubble1 Squarebubble1 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grammanaut
I think the giggling is evenly spread between the sexes, we just call it different things depending on who's giggling. Like someone else said above - a lower-pitched giggle is more often called a chuckle. As a recent example, I spent three hours in a bus with a gang of teen boys a few days ago. There was no end to the (often manic) giggling.

So I think it's a question of semantics, really.
I can't say I agree...for one, giggling has historically been a feminine trait (like the stereotypical airhead bimbos back in the day). Also, guys will usually curtail after a couple of good "ha-ha"'s, and rarely to almost anything. Can't say that for girls.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 03-08-2008, 01:29 PM
Squarebubble1 Squarebubble1 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by lobotomyboy63
I'd like to know why after some girls/women laugh hard, they "fan" themselves.
Hot flashes?
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 03-08-2008, 01:33 PM
Squarebubble1 Squarebubble1 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Athena


Every boyfriend I've ever had giggled. Trust me, I know how to make 'em giggle.
I dunno - in my neighborhood it was a sign of weakness for guys to tee-hee.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 03-08-2008, 01:36 PM
Squarebubble1 Squarebubble1 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hostile Dialect
My dad will say something terrible about someone or something (sometimes the person he's talking to) and then force out a laugh, as if to make it seem not as bad. Remember the paramilitia gun nut in Bowling for Columbine who Mr. Moore interviewed in the guy's house and who would say something really wacko about the government and then force out a laugh? Just like that. It's really creepy.
It's not really the same thing; that response is more of "I head you, but can't believe what you said" kind of thing.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 03-08-2008, 01:40 PM
ratatoskK ratatoskK is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Beyond the Pale
Posts: 3,901
When my son is with his friends they sound like Beavis and Butthead. I think that's the male equivalent of giggling. Their voices are lower so it sounds different.
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 03-08-2008, 01:40 PM
Walpurgis Walpurgis is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
You might also want to take geography and culture into consideration. One trait might be percieved as very common in one corner of the world, while completely alien in another. What is coded as masculine/feminine behaviour is very different depending on where you are. Giggling can mean different things depending on culture. Who does the giggling in a certain culture can depend on gender, age, social group and more. Et cetera. As with most human behaviours.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 03-08-2008, 01:45 PM
Mister Rik Mister Rik is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: The bunghole of WA
Posts: 10,384
Quote:
Originally Posted by Squarebubble1
I can't say I agree...for one, giggling has historically been a feminine trait (like the stereotypical airhead bimbos back in the day). Also, guys will usually curtail after a couple of good "ha-ha"'s, and rarely to almost anything. Can't say that for girls.
I'll add that guys tend to giggle/chuckle/laugh because they think something is funny. I think the OP is asking about girls giggling about everything.

ETA: Ah, you are the OP. So I'm agreeing with you

Last edited by Phase42; 03-08-2008 at 01:46 PM..
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:04 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.