If you’ve ever listened to a certain song and felt a shiver go down your spine, or if you’ve gotten goosebumps from hearing someone sing in just the right way, then you have a very unique trait.
Mitchell Colver wrote about an interesting bit of science on The Conversation. In the piece he says, “The experience is called frisson (pronounced free-sawn), a French term meaning “aesthetic chills,” and it feels like waves of pleasure running all over your skin. Some researchers have even dubbed it a “skin orgasm.”
Listening to emotionally moving music is the most common trigger of frisson, but some feel it while looking at beautiful artwork, watching a particularly moving scene in a movie, or having physical contact with another person. Studies have shown that roughly two-thirds of the population feels frisson, and frisson-loving Reddit users have even created a subreddit to share their favorite frisson-causing media.”
We predicted that if a person were more cognitively immersed in a piece of music, then he or she might be more likely to experience frisson as a result of paying closer attention to the stimuli,” Colver wrote.
“And we suspected that whether or not someone would become cognitively immersed in a piece of music in the first place would be a result of his or her personality type.”
Sam Murphy for Music Feeds elaborates:
“To test this, participants were hooked up to a machine that measured their skin response. They were then played various pieces of music by artists including Air Supply, Hans Zimmer and Chopin.
Each of the songs were said to contain one thrilling or climatic moment that might cause frission. By getting the participants to sit a personality test as well, Colver deduced that those who experienced the sensation possessed 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, often reflect deeply on their feelings, and love variety in life,” he wrote.
This has apparently been proved before, however, Colver has discovered that it’s not the emotional side of the personality trait that is causing the reaction to music, it’s the cognitive – “such as making mental predictions about how the music is going to unfold or engaging in musical imagery (a way of processing music that combines listening with daydreaming).”
In simpler words, those who immerse themselves in the music on an intellectual level are more likely to experience goosebumps or chills than those who simply let it wash over them.”