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Durham University



Publication details for Mr Scott Bannister

Bannister, S. C. & Eerola, T. (2018). Suppressing the Chills: Effects of Musical Manipulation on the Chills Response. Frontiers in Psychology - Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience 9: 2046.

Author(s) from Durham


Research on musical chills has linked the response to multiple musical features; however, there exists no study that has attempted to manipulate musical stimuli to enable causal inferences, meaning current understanding is based mainly on correlational evidence. In the current study, participants who regularly experience chills (N = 24) listened to an original and manipulated version of three pieces reported to elicit chills in a previous survey. Predefined chills sections were removed to create manipulated conditions. The effects of these manipulations on the chills response were assessed through continuous self-reports, and skin conductance measurements. Results show that chills were significantly less frequent following stimulus manipulation across all three pieces. Continuous measurements of chills intensity were significantly higher in the chills sections compared with control sections in the pieces; similar patterns were found for phasic skin conductance, although some differences emerged. Continuous measurements also correlated with psychoacoustic features such as loudness, brightness and roughness in two of the three pieces. Findings are discussed in terms of understanding structural and acoustic features and chills experiences within their local music contexts, the necessity of experimental approaches to musical chills, and the possibility of different features activating different underlying mechanisms.