Getting chills when listening to music might mean you’re a more emotional person.

This article was originally published on The Conversation .
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Have you always been listening to a great piece of music and felt a cool run up your spinal column ? Or goosebumps tickle your arms and shoulders ?

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The experience is called frisson ( marked free-sawn ), a french condition meaning “ aesthetic chills, ” and it feels like waves of pleasure running all over your hide. Some researchers have even dubbed it a “ peel orgasm. ”
Listening to emotionally moving music is the most common trip of frisson, but some feel it while looking at beautiful artwork, watching a peculiarly moving scene in a movie, or having physical touch with another person. Studies have shown that approximately two-thirds of the population feels frisson, and frisson-loving Reddit users have even created a subreddit to plowshare their favorite frisson-causing media .
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But why do some people experience frisson and not others ?
Working in the lab of Dr. Amani El-Alayli, a professor of social psychology at Eastern Washington University, I decided to find out .
While scientists are silent unlocking the secrets of this phenomenon, a large soundbox of inquiry over the past five decades has traced the origins of frisson to how we emotionally react to unexpected stimuli in our environment, peculiarly music .
musical passages that include unexpected harmonies, sudden changes in book, or the moving capture of a soloist are peculiarly common triggers for frisson because they violate listeners ’ expectations in a incontrovertible way, similar to what occurred during the 2009 debut performance of the retiring Susan Boyle on “ Britain ’ south Got Talent. ”
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If a violin soloist is playing a particularly move passage that builds up to a beautiful high note, the hearer might find this climactic consequence emotionally charged and feel a exhilarate from witnessing the successful execution of such a difficult piece .
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But skill is still trying to catch up with why this thrill results in goosebumps in the first space .
Some scientists have suggested that goosebumps are an evolutionary holdover from our early ( hairier ) ancestors, who kept themselves warm through an endothermic layer of heat they retained immediately beneath the hairs of their clamber. Experiencing goosebumps after a rapid transfer in temperature ( like being exposed to an by chance cool breeze on a cheery day ) temporarily raises and then lowers those hairs, resetting this layer of heat .
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Since we invented invest, humans have had less of a want for this endothermic layer of heat. But the physiologic social organization is distillery in position, and it may have been rewired to produce aesthetic chills as a reaction to emotionally moving stimulation, like big beauty in art or nature .
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research regarding the preponderance of frisson has varied widely, with studies showing anywhere between 55 percentage and 86 percentage of the population being able to experience the effect .
We predicted that if a person were more cognitively immersed in a piece of music, then he or she might be more probable to experience frisson as a resultant role of paying closer attention to the stimulation. And we suspected that whether or not person would become cognitively immersed in a patch of music in the beginning place would be a resultant role of his or her personality character .
To test this guess, participants were brought into the lab and wired up to an instrumental role that measures electric hide answer, a measure of how the electrical resistance of people ’ s skin changes when they become physiologically aroused. Participants were then invited to listen to several pieces of music as lab assistants monitored their responses to the music in real time .
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Examples of pieces used in the sketch include :
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Each of these pieces contains at least one thrilling moment known to cause frisson in listeners ( several have been used in previous studies ). For example, in the Bach piece, the tension built up by the orchestra during the first 80 seconds is ultimately released by the entrance of the choir—a particularly charged moment that ’ mho probably to elicit frisson .
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As participants listened to these pieces of music, lab assistants asked them to report their experiences of frisson by pressing a small button, which created a temporal log of each listening seance .
By comparing this datum to the physiological measures, and to a personality test the participants had completed, we were—for the beginning time—able to draw some singular conclusions about why frisson might be happening more often for some listeners than others .
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Results from the personality examination showed that the listeners who experienced frisson besides scored high for a personality trait called “ openness to experience. ”
Studies have shown that people who possess this trait have unusually active imaginations, appreciate beauty and nature, seek out new experiences, frequently reflect profoundly on their feelings, and love variety show in biography. Some aspects of this trait are inherently emotional ( loving assortment, appreciating beauty ), while others are cognitive ( resource, intellectual curiosity ) .
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While previous research had connected receptiveness to experience with frisson, most researchers had concluded that listeners were experiencing frisson as a leave of a deeply emotional reaction they were having to the music .
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In contrast, the results of our study show it ’ s the cognitive components of openness to experience—such as making mental predictions about how the music is going to unfold or engaging in musical imagination ( a way of processing music that combines listening with daydreaming ) —that are associated with frisson to a greater degree than the aroused components .
These findings, recently published in the diary Psychology of Music, indicate that those who intellectually immerse themselves in music ( rather than equitable letting it menstruation over them ) might experience frisson more much and more intensely than others .
And if you ’ re one of the lucky people who can feel it, the frisson group on Reddit has identified Lady Gaga ’ randomness rendition of “ The Star-Spangled Banner ” at the 2016 Super Bowl, and a fanmade trailer for the original Star Wars trilogy, as particularly chill-inducing .

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