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Q: Jumping up and down ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Jumping up and down
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: dood-ga
List Price: $4.50
Posted: 21 Apr 2003 21:18 PDT
Expires: 21 May 2003 21:18 PDT
Question ID: 193635
I've noticed that people all over the world tend to jump up and down
when they are happy, excited, or are having some kind of adrenaline
rush.  When people are demonstrating, celebrating, cheering and, in
general, quite happy, they seem to jump up and down a lot.  Why is
this?  I'm looking for an intelligent analysis of the jumping up and
down behavior in humans, although I've seen dogs, chimps, and other
animals jump when they're excited, too.  Of course, the phrase
"jumping up and down" doesn't exactly make sense; but, that is the way
the behavior is generally described.
Subject: Re: Jumping up and down
Answered By: j_philipp-ga on 22 Apr 2003 01:17 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello Dood,

I would say when you win (e.g. a tennis match), you jumps upwards to
show that you're "above" the other. In this sense, it is also a form
of non-verbal communication ("I am happy" and "I am better").

Another jump-inducing scenery is a crowd. First, one might want to see
more of what's happening. Second, e.g. on a rock concert, one wants to
follow the rythm of the music. Added to that, one expresses that one
is feeling lifted up, light, flying, independent of gravity, fit and

Or, one might have just conquered a fear, or feels some other form of
great relief. Sometimes, we also jump out of shock (e.g. seeing a
giant black spider crawling the bathroom ceiling).

I'd argue every adrenaline rush must somehow result in drastic body
movement to free the tension. This can also be done by clapping hands,
throwing a fist up in the air, shouting something like "Yay!", or
singing a song. Group dynamics, as described by Robertskelton's
comment, do the rest to spread the movement unto others of the crowd.

Smaller feelings of happiness, those that are less sudden, might
simply result in whistling, humming, smiling, stretching, tapping on
the table, or shaking from left to right.

When we contrast these positive emotional outbursts to the negative
ones, we get further insights. If you're suddenly unhappy (e.g. when
losing a tennis match), you will: hit your fist, go down on the ground
in contemplative stance, look up to the sky and cover your face with
your hands, stamp the ground, shake the head, or throw an object near
to you towards the ground or the wall. I would say in general these
are more downwards expression, expressions of hiding yourself,
lowering yourself, to the point of self-inflicted pain (like slapping
your forehead).

Here are some voices collected from the World Wide Web. As you will
see from this, jumping can express both happiness and shock:

- "I jump because lately - nothing makes me happier"

- "I like to close my eyes when I jump because it makes me land funny"

- "I jump because I can"

- "... and the phone rings and I JUMP because I'm hoping it's my
crush, Todd."

- "... sometimes I jump because I scare myself"

- "I jump because it creates a false sense of security."

- "I jump because it's possible to avoid life by facing death"

- "I jump because my terrific neighbors are being obnoxiously
patriotic and launching 20 inch shells in their backyard. But it's the

- "I jump because it hurts, and I fall off the sidewalk"

- "I jump because it catches me unexpectedly"

- "I jump, because there's no time to waste and serious consequences
are in the offing if I hesitate"

- "I jump because I'm ticklish"

- "I jump because he wasn't there a moment ago and now he's breathing
on my neck."

- "... then I jump because I hear someone moving ..."

- "I jump because I wasn't paying careful attention"

- "I jump because I didn't hear her come into the kitchen"

- "I jump because you startled me"

- "I was jumping, because I'm a small person"

- "I was jumping because there was always some dude who came out of
now where and totally surprised me"

And added to all that, jumping up and down is also good exercise.

Why Should I Exercise? The Benefits of Exercise

I asked some people [1] why are we jumping up and down:

- "It's probably cultural, i.e. learned."

- "Or just...spur of the moment action"

- "I mean, I don't think that your ankle muscles go into spasms when
happy hormones are released."

- "And I don't do it."

- "You should ask a chick... chicks jump up and down a lot when happy"

- "It's possible that happy hormones give you temporary energy... like
adrenaline (...) and it might be natural to spend it, instead of
containing it."

- "Yeah, just getting caught up in the moment ... Like someone
snapping and doing something violent"

- "It's called the "Eureka Syndrome" ... usually accompanied by
running naked through the street"

I hope this helps!


[1] The people were from science and philosophy chat channels and
agreed to be quoted anonymously.

Search terms:
"we jump because"
"we are jumping because"
"people jump because"
"why people jump up"
"jumping research"
"i jump because"
"why do we exercise" body physical science
"adrenaline rush"
"biology of expression"
evolution "physical expression" action science

Request for Answer Clarification by dood-ga on 22 Apr 2003 13:13 PDT
I would say that although you obviously did some serious research, the
bulk of the findings are expressions of a fright/shock/surprise
response.  A friend of mine had suggested the
adrenaline-release-of-tension hypothesis; and, it may be the one thing
that causes a child to begin jumping up and down upon hearing that the
family is going on a picnic and, also, that causes someone in a crowd
to begin jumping up and down at a political demonstration.  Except for
the first one, none of the "voices from the World Wide Web" expressed
anything that would be considered "jumping up and down."  No one would
argue that jumping up and down is not "good exercise", just as jumping
rope is encouraged, but it has nothing to do with "jumping up and
down" behavior.  It may be a learned response to something; but, if it
is, it crosses over all cultural boundaries...therefore, it may be

I'd like to see your argument about the adrenaline release-of-tension
Thanks very much.

Clarification of Answer by j_philipp-ga on 23 Apr 2003 01:43 PDT
Hello Dood,

Thanks for asking for an answer clarification. Let me specifically
focus on evolution, behavior patterns and the tension-release

I quote from following article:


"[The] brain automatically sets the interconnected structures into
action; Amygdala, hippocampus, entorhinal cortex, which are located in
the medial part of cerebral hemispheres in our brain, start sending
messages into our bloodstream and therefore into the whole body. (...)
This explains nervousness, which we often feel before certain
situations; Amygdala stores the messages received in the past and
sends the 'remember' signals to the body when we come across a likely
similar event that caused fear in the past. Fear increases the
adrenaline release and consequently human reaction follows depending
on amount of adrenaline the body receives.

The positive signal works the other way round; brain releases
noradrenaline hormones and body receives them with calming effects.
However, there are some positive signals that create the same effects
as a negative one; being extremely excited or extremely happy are
these type of emotions."

And later:

"When amygdala receives the nerve signal indicating the treat, it
sends out signals that triggers defensive behaviour, autonomic arousal
(usually including rapid heartbeat and raised blood pressure
(hypothalamus)), hypoalgesia (a diminished capacity to feel pain)
somatic reflex potentiation (such as an exaggerated startle reflex),
and pituitary gland- adrenaline axis stimulation (production of stress
hormones). These physical changes lead to the reaction."

And in another paper, Greenberg is quoted: "Autonomic reflexes are
among the richest sources of adaptive behavioral patterns and this is
most vividly manifest in the evolution of social signals"

I could locate this from the Google Cache at:

It might be jumping up and down is also a "conditioned reflex", as
discussed by Ivan Pavlov. And, a form of ritual dance; cultures all
across the world share some dancing characteristics -- like tribal
dance and techno raves, which both consist of jumping up and down
repeatedly. Dancing is a positive release of tensions, and other
repetitive motion can suffice to do the same (like throwing up your
fists repeatedly, or screaming). Now it's hard to say how exactly this
specific motion of jumping up and down has come into creation during
evolution and cultural behavior patterns, but it might be the
increased body temperature [1] and heart rate [2] are part of getting
into a rush, thus making jumping up and down a self-stimulation
pattern to enhance the already existing joyful feelings, while at the
same time releasing energy.

Hope this clarifies!

Further references:

Behavioral Ecology and Evolution of Behavior

"Behaviours are often described as either instinctive or learned. But,
in reality, the majority of behaviours rely on both inheritance and
the effects of the environment."


[1] What is Heat? How is it created?

"So, put energy into a system and it heats up, take energy away and it
cools. For example, when we are cold, we can jump up and down to get

[2] Bodywalk Program Guide Key Concepts [PDF]

"When you jump up and down, your heart beats faster"

Search terms:
adrenaline release evolution
noradrenaline release evolution
"behavioral patterns" evolution reflexes
reflexes jumping
"releasing adrenaline"
"instinctive reaction" behavior evolution
conditioned reflexes
"evolution of behavior"
"jump up and down"
dood-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $2.25
The "Answer Clarification" was a great piece of research.  Thanks!

Subject: Re: Jumping up and down
From: robertskelton-ga on 21 Apr 2003 22:03 PDT
Great question! Shame I couldn't find a definitive answer! And I was
doing it at a gig just two nights ago!

My personal guess - it's like feedback loop, like how laughter is
contagious. We are expressing an emotion so pure that words are a
waste of time. We express it my jumping/smiling/dancing, because we
are hoping that this will inspire others to do the same. And we they
do, it makes us happier.

Human1 smiles. Human2 sees Human1 smiles, figures that happiness is
appropriate, smiles too. Human1 becomes happier when he sees Human2 is
also smiling.

Perhaps it is a method of heightening experience through the
validation of others?

Darwin mentions it:

"According to the first principle of Darwin's theory, these inborn
basic emotions originated in serviceable associated habits - with
relations between them like those between vomiting and the expression
of disgust. In the second principle of his theory, he claimed that
each of the basic emotions consists of a pair of bipolar antitheses -
like the two opposing poles of fear and serenity. According to his
third principle, the emotional phenomena can result from direct
actions of the nervous system - like jumping up and down without any
aim, when excessively excited."

Perhaps we jump up and down to make us happy? Perhaps we smile to be
Subject: Re: Jumping up and down
From: dood-ga on 22 Apr 2003 20:49 PDT
Robertskelton is very close to a solid answer.  Quoting Darwin is
certainly a plus.  When one puts the word "jump" into a search engine,
almost everything EXCEPT "jumping up and down behavior" appears as a
hit; e.g., jumping from startlement, fright, out of an airplane, to
conclusions, at chances, etc.,etc., etc.  Jumping up and down
"behavior" is something quite different.  It is repetitive, for one
thing; it's not simply a jump occurring once. Excitement and/or
happiness may trigger the response.  A shot of adrenaline (epinephrine
 from the adrenal glands may also be the trigger.  It seems to be
universal.  I was hoping there had been a study on the subject that
someone would find.
Thanks for your input, Robertskelton.

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