Do you ever experience chills while listening to music? Recently, scientists have gotten interested in this question, and they’ve found some fascinating stuff. While most people experience chills some of the time, a small minority experience them very frequently — and about 10% say they never feel chills.
What accounts for the difference? Is it based in the type of music you listen to — like punk or country or hip-hop? Or the type of person you are? Or maybe some complex combination of the two — i.e. maybe the type of people who listen to, say, mainstream pop are also the type of people most likely to feel chills in the presence of art they heavily dig?
To try and figure it out, Emily C. Nusbaum (a scientific name that totally freaked me out because it’s almost precisely that of my wife) and Paul J. Silvia decided to survey 196 students at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. They asked them how often they felt chills while listening to music; then they profiled their personalities using the “big five” scale (i.e. how they scored on measures of neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness). And finally they asked the students to describe how much they liked or hated various types of music based on the way music is categorized in the STOMP scale — which, for example, slots classic and folk music as “Reflective and Complex”, and rock and metal as “Intense and Rebellious”. (I kind of cracked up reading those STOMP categories. I mean, sure, yeah, technically Rachmaninoff is classical music — but it’s easily more “Intense and Rebellious” than, god save us, Nickelback. Meanwhile, Pachabel’s Canon, having become the go-to processional music for about seven trillion weddings, has been taxidermically drained of any serious reflective value. Anyway …)
The point is, once they crunched their data, no music genre trumped. There is no particular type of music you can listen to that will reliably impart chills. The truly big predictor? Your personality. Specifically, how open you are to experience — because this affects how frequently and deeply you engage with music. People who are more open to experience are also likely to interact with music in specifically intense ways:
In particular, rating music as more important, listening to music for more hours per day, and playing an instrument significantly predicted aesthetic chills.
Interesting thread! I'd say I often seek out music or movies that would give me chills or in general stimulate an emotional response.
Originally Posted by Synarch
I would expect more sensitive types to experience this more readily.
Perhaps more readily. But not necessarily are the only ones. However, I often equated enneagram type 4's to seek out more intense music.
Originally Posted by Synarch
I remember reading something about how music can evoke certain emotions because apparently different tones and notes mimic different emotions in some sympathetic way. Like, for example, you can imagine a sad song and there is a quality sometimes of sad music in that it can sound like a wail or a cry, etc. So, it could even be Nickleback (ugh) if it hit the right sequence of tones and sounds to tap into that layer of our minds.
Originally Posted by IZthe411
I get chills from time to time. Certain voices, certain music, can carry me off and away.
Originally Posted by Redbone
No particular genre will trigger it. Just certain songs. It gives me a feeling of being alive. I really don't know how to describe it without sounding nutty.
I'd say it's unpredictable. It could vary depending upon your own mood... something may just strike you... a voice, a lyric, a music note... I'd also have to say your full attention has to be on the music... being actively engaged. Headphones or a good set of speakers are a must!
a couple of chill inspiring songs :
Last edited by IndyGhost; 01-05-2011 at 09:02 PM.
"I don't know a perfect person.
I only know flawed people who are still worth loving."
Generally I don't have much of a visceral response to music. There are some types of music that give me sort of a "swept away / flying" mindset, like fast-paced rock or a particularly resonant and loud classical piece, but not "chills". Well, except for that darned Olympic theme during the opening ceremonies, when the athletes start coming into the stadium *shame*. That gets me every time.