Chills and music

By • Published: March 3rd, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Ever been channel surfing your radio and found a song that gives you the shakes or chills? Some people call these chills goose bumps or goose flesh. But researchers call them a horripilation [hor-ih-pie-LAY-shun].

Whatever you call them, you might have wondered why they occur. Scientists recently set out to study why some people experience them while listening to their favorite tunes, while others don’t.

Researchers in North Carolina asked nearly two hundred students how often they felt chills down their spines, got goose bumps, or felt like their hair was standing on end while listening to various types of music.

They also measured their experience with music and their music preferences, and examined their five main personality traits – extroversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism and openness to experience.

Eight percent of the students showed no signs of music-induced chills.

But researchers found that one personality trait… openness to experience… significantly predicted chills. People with the openness to experience trait are imaginative, independent and usually musically inclined.

Researchers also found that although being open to new experiences may predict whether students were susceptible to chills from music, the type of music did not seem to make a difference. From rap to rock, country to classical, the genre seemed unimportant in terms of the music’s ability to conjure up chills.

So just remember, the next time you are flipping channels on your radio or searching through your MP3 player, there might be a song that makes you shake.

When that happens, why not try asking anyone within earshot whether they are having a horripilation moment?

That’s bound to be a new experience for you.