Why do people whistle?

Give us a toot! There is remarkably little research on why humans whistle. 

22nd September 2017
Why do people whistle? (Getty)

Asked by: Tony Webb, Langford

Apart from a small study from 2011 that found men whistle more than women, there’s actually remarkably little psychology research on whistling. However, music is a human universal found all over the world and whistling is just another form of what music scholars call ‘momentary musical performing’, alongside singing in the shower, drumming a beat on the desk and humming while you do the housework, with the choice of tune likely reflecting our mood or perhaps chosen in an attempt to enhance it. Whistling is something we especially tend to do when we’re bored. 

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