Music_listening

Music that chills

Maybe Ravel’s Bolero sends chills down your spine. Possibly it is Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” that makes you shiver. Or is it Brittney Spears’ “Oops, I did it again” that generates primal shuddering? We all have the capacity to be given chills by music that thrills us but new research shows that some of us are more prone to these chills while others feel them very rarely.

The reason for the difference comes down to personality.

Researchers interviewed subjects as to how often they felt chills down their spine, got goose bumps, or felt their hair was standing on end while listening to music. They also examined their experience with music and gave them personality tests.

The results showed that people who score high in “openness” on personality tests are more likely to feel chills in response music more often. People who are “open” in psychological terms are more creative, curious, have active imaginations, and like to play with ideas.

You might think that people who are open may listen to different kinds of music but that is not the case. What does seem to be behind the open-chill link is that people who are open are much more likely to play a musical instrument and rate music as important in their life.

One interesting finding from the study was that around eight per cent of people reported never feeling chills in response to music at all.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the chilling capacity of music is in the personality of the listener . Again, it comes back to the unique experience of life that each person has. How could we ever expect to make human life better by homogenising it to conform to some arbitrary “common” point of experience?

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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