1.6 Why are certain repetitive activities more pleasurable than others? 17 an addictive and pleasant activity. Why does it comfort and help to relax? Why is it soothing? Actually, some years ago I formulated a rather embarrassing conjecture that the attraction to bubble wrap popping is genet- ically determined. Bubble wrap triggers in humans archaic in- stincts linked to an ape-like behavior: grooming (and even more importantly, mutual grooming) and destruction of lice. In apes and monkeys, mutual grooming is an important part of social bonding, which explains its soothing, comforting, relaxing effect. In my search on the Web for a confirmation of my conjecture I have not managed to get further than numerous websites devoted to virtual bubble wrap popping. A search on the words “bubble wrap” is not the best way to find anything meaningful on the Web: almost everything sold on the Internet is mailed in bubble wrap packaging. As a result, GOOGLE produces 9,090,000 hits for “bub- ble wrap”. I offered the problem to my colleague Gregory Cherlin, who was more Internet savvy and carried out a successful search. Here are his principal findings: Gene HOXB8 controls normal grooming behavior. Disruption in mice leads to obsessive grooming behavior. Here is a summary of information from the National Institutes of Health website [448]: This gene belongs to the homeobox family of genes. The homeobox genes encode a highly conserved family of tran- scription factors that play an important role in morpho- genesis in all multicellular organisms. Mammals pos- sess four similar homeobox gene clusters, HOXA, HOXB, HOXC and HOXD, which are located on different chromo- somes and consist of 9 to 11 genes arranged in tandem. This gene is one of several homeobox HOXB genes located in a cluster on chromosome 17. HOXB8 knockout mice ex- hibit an excessive pathologic grooming behavior, leading to hair removal and self-inflicted wounds at overgroomed sites. This behavior is similar to the behavior of humans suffering from the obsessive-compulsive spectrum disor- der trichotillomania. There is quite a range of grooming-related disorders in humans [454]. Primates indeed do love to pop bubble wrap [445, p. 8]. Meanwhile, my own search for bubble wrap popping on Google Scholar led me to the book under the telling title Teens Together Grief Support Group Curriculum [429]. I have not seen the whole book, but, apparently, page 57 contains sufficiently revealing words:
Previous Page Next Page