05/17/2019

I Scream. You Scream. Why Do We All Scream?

17:12 minutes

painting of man screaming against wooden railing
An insert of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” Credit: National Gallery of Norway, via Wikimedia Commons.

When you hear a scream, you automatically perk up. It catches your attention. But scientists are still working to define what exactly makes a scream. People scream when they are scared or happy. It’s not just a humans, either—all types of animals scream, from frogs to macaques.

Psychologist Harold Gouzoules and his team measured the acoustic properties of a human scream by actually playing screams for people: Screams of fright, screams of excitement, and even a whistle. He joins Ira to talks about the evolutionary basis of screaming and what it can tell us about how human nonverbal communication.

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Segment Guests

Harold Gouzoules

Harold Gouzoules is a professor in the Department of Psychology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

Meet the Producers and Host

About Alexa Lim

Alexa Lim is a producer for Science Friday. Her favorite stories involve space, sound, and strange animal discoveries.

About Ira Flatow

Ira Flatow is the host and executive producer of Science Friday. His green thumb has revived many an office plant at death’s door.

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