Teasing is good for you!

January 8, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- The use of insults at a young age improves social skills and helps children develop a sense of humour according to research by Dr Erin Heerey of the School of Psychology.

Her research also found that "play fighting" gives pupils the chance to tell the difference between real and pretend violence and she insists that teasing and nicknames were an "essential part of life" and should not automatically be confused with bullying. Teasing helps children to discover how to use their bodies, voices and faces to communicate nuances of meaning, she added.

Dr Heerey said: "I think it takes a while for kids to gain proficiency. You can watch teenagers queuing up to buy a movie ticket and they banter with one another. They say really horrible things to one but they are all laughing and it's all fun."

Dr Heerey carried out recent research into the role that teasing plays in US college fraternities. It found older students mocked newcomers with crude nicknames about drunkenness and other failings in a way that encouraged them to change their behaviour and helped group bonding. The study - with Dacher Keltner of California University - found that these "playful humiliations" led to people becoming better friends. When the researchers revisited the group two years later, students who had been the butt of jokes were in leadership positions and playing the same role of passing on social norms.

Dr Heerey, originally from Wisconsin, said British people seemed more serious with their teasing than Americans. She said: "People will say something outlandish with a totally straight face. But people in Britain poke fun at themselves a little bit more than Americans. "As an American, you're expecting to see these non-verbal cues that say 'I'm joking' but you don't see them - but they are there and you just have to look a little closer."

Provided by Bangor University

Explore further: Don't stop me now! Superluminal travel in Einstein's universe

Related Stories

Don't stop me now! Superluminal travel in Einstein's universe

November 27, 2015

The story of the drawn-out development of Albert Einstein's revolutionary rewrite of the laws of gravity has been told many times, but over the past 100 years it has given us extreme stars and black holes, expanding universes ...

Contact with nature may mean more social cohesion, less crime

November 25, 2015

Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of contact with nature for human well-being. However, despite strong trends toward greater urbanization and declining green space, little is known about the social consequences ...

Global warming: What if we do nothing?

November 17, 2015

If mankind fails to curtail global warming, we will have to deal with fallout ranging from massive refugee crises and submerged cities to scorching heatwaves and drought, scientists say.

Competition for Microsoft lineup, which targets high end

October 6, 2015

The success of Microsoft's fall lineup of devices will ride on the company's ability to convince people who got free Windows 10 software upgrades this summer to spring for new devices—specifically, Windows devices.

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.