Why do women scream?

I mean the specific scream on finding a dead body. It’s Standard Operating Procedure for all females in movies and TV, no matter whether it’s films of the 30s/40s or Law & Order on TV today. When a woman comes across a dead body, she screams. Guys will maybe allow themselves an exclamation of surprise but otherwise maintain a steely reserve.

So I guess the first question should be, is this true? (Never having been with a woman when she discovered a corpse). Or is it a sexist canard put about by Hollywood?

I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t scream. Never tested the theory, though.

There was thread on here a while back in which a few women admitted that they reflexively scream when the lights go out unexpectedly. I certainly don’t, and it embarrasses me that anybody does.

Of course, some of those shrill screams of fear from the lights going out suddenly might be from men. It’s too dark to see them and they’re certainly not going to admit it.

I’m a female and while I’ve never happened upon a dead body, I suspect if I did I would probably scream. My husband thinks this aspect of my psychology is totally inconsistent with the rest of my personality since I am generally pretty no-nonsense. But when something really startles me, I automatically scream. It happens very rarely, the last incident was several years ago when our cat brought a live mouse into the house and set it down right in front of me. And it’s truly a reflexive reaction and not something I would ever do intentionally.

But once I saw one of those funny video shows which featured a *guy *screaming like a school girl when he was starled in a haunted house. Now **that **was funny. Not that there’s anything wrong with it…

I’m female and have never stumbled across a dead body, but I’m betting I wouldn’t scream. When I’m startled, I tend more towards freezing up, which isn’t especially conductive to letting out an ear-piercing shriek.

I don’t scream…generally…

I was a pretty hardcore tomboy when I was little, so screaming was definitely out of the question…after high school, though, I rapidly became girlier.

A little over a year ago, we had the occasional ant scamper across the floor for a couple months and I couldn’t figure out where they came from.

One day I was cleaning the kitchen and we had this little chile-shaped tray in the window sill…it was a little dusty, so I thought I’d rinse it off and return it. When I lifted it, there was a full-blown ant colony underneath it, complete with eggs and larvae…both warranting a scream!

And a 6 foot backwards jump.

And a “they’re-on-me, they’re-on-me” dance.

If I saw a corpse in the woods or something, I might startle, recoil, but I feel like I’d be more inclined to utter “Holy Sh*t!” than, scream.

I also have an irrational fear of spiders (and those creepy house centipedes). When I see one unexpectedly, like going through a box, I don’t scream, it’s usually a non-verbal noise while I snatch my hand back.

I will scream on a roller coaster or a log ride, though…

*oh yeah, and occasionally during sex…it would be a little weird if a man screamed during sex

So, who’s a fan of Dakota Fanning?

Anyone researching this fascinating subject may stumble across a website called girls and corpses.

Google it yourself.

I’m inclined to believe many women would inadvertently scream just like in the movies when encountering a corpse. The most reserved, steely women I know (my mother and her sister) both instinctively screamed upon the mere sight of a mouse scurrying close to their feet. And these are country women who handle true crisis quite well.

Girls and screaming has always remained a mystery to me.
Being near a gradeschool playground when the bell rings only to see all the kids run toward the school building and the girls all screaming??
Or seeing the latest boy-idol group (Beatles, NKOTB, NSYNC, Jonas Brothers) and watching all the girls just screaming at the top of their lungs??

I have always wondered why girls scream at concerts as such. What emotion are they feeling to have such a reaction? The madness of crowds, excitement, lust??

Evolutionary speaking…

It seems likely to me that’s it’s helpful in getting the men back the hut or cave, if it is in danger.

Heh heh.

Males are genetically more predisposed to taking on high-risk jobs, since we’re more expendable. And seeing a corpse unexpectedly is often an indication that there’s a high-risk job to be done somewhere. So when a male sees a corpse, the genetically predisposed response is to figue out what the relevant high-risk job is and to go do it (and, of course, to possibly get himself killed in the process, it being high-risk). When a female sees a corpse, meanwhile, the genetically predisposed response is to try to attract the attention of any risky-job-doer that might be in the vicinity. A scream, you may have noticed, tends to have that effect.

As a man, I can’t scream if I tried. I just can’t figure out how without sounding phony.

I don’t know if my wife would scream if she happened upon a dead body, but I know that she screams at the sight of anything with more than 4 legs, dead or alive. :smiley:

Your wife screams at baby lambs?

Y’know, if you rephrased that you might be on to something. Screaming can scare away large predators, probably because they’ve learned to associate screaming humans with a sudden influx of risky-job-doers with sticks and rocks.

Small predators I’ve known seem to think that if it’s something so scary that great big humans scream it’s something they don’t want to be around. Well, cats, at least. Dogs as risky-job-doers are even more expendable than guys so they need to be where the action is.

Very young children of both sexes scream loudly, scream often. I think males simply learn to suppress the scream reflex because society expects them to. (Anthropology question: Are there any cultures in which screaming occurs equally in both genders?) There are of course situations in which screaming is expected, such as falling to one’s death off a cliff (although only for villains and extras; heroes are expected to plummet stoically). See: Wilhelm.

My guess is it’s part of the flight or fight reflex. Males and females react differently to different stimuli in a survival situation…and part of a woman’s instinctual (or maybe reflexive) action is to scream really loudly. Most likely woman who didn’t scream loudly got eaten by whatever predator had caused the reaction at a higher rate than those who screamed their heads off (my WAG…screams would frighten off or at least make a predator wary or hesitate and would also alert the rest of the tribe that something bad is afoot)…so, women reflexively scream. My mother certain does when she is startled, as does my mother in law (but not my wife for some reason…she is probably among the minority of mutants who would have been tiger chow back in the day).


This is not true; the show Bones features a female anthropologist who has no problems with even the most gruesome corpses.