Most of us have experienced goose bumps or a chill going down our spine when we listened to music of some kind – now a new study explains why.
People who are particularly open to new experiences are most likely to have chills in response to music, according to Emily Nusbaum and Paul Silvia of University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
People high in openness are creative, curious about many things, have active imaginations and like to play with ideas, and they much more frequently feel chills in response to music.
Surprisingly, people high in openness didn't have chills because they tended to listen to different kinds of music. Instead, people with a lot of openness to experience were more likely to play a musical instrument themselves and they rated music as more important in their lives than people low in openness. Not surprisingly, people high in openness also spent more time listening to music.
"There are a lot of ways in which people are basically alike, but the experience of chills isn't one of them," said the authors.
"Some people seem to have never experienced chills while listening to music—around 8 percent of people in our study—but other people experience chills basically every day.
“Findings like these are what the make the study of personality and music interesting—music is a human universal, but some people get a lot more out of it."
The study appears in the current Social Psychological and Personality Science.