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Durham University



Publication details for Mr Scott Bannister

Bannister, Scott (2020). A survey into the experience of musically induced chills: Emotions, situations and music. Psychology of Music 48(2): 297-314.

Author(s) from Durham


Musically induced chills, an emotional response accompanied by gooseflesh, shivers and tingling sensations, are an intriguing aesthetic phenomenon. Although chills have been linked to musical features, personality traits and listening contexts, there exists no comprehensive study that surveys the general characteristics of chills, such as emotional qualities. Thus, the present research aimed to develop a broad understanding of the musical chills response, in terms of emotional characteristics, types of music and chill-inducing features, and listening contexts. Participants (N = 375) completed a survey collecting qualitative responses regarding a specific experience of musical chills, with accompanying quantitative ratings of music qualia and underlying mechanisms. Participants could also describe two more “chills pieces”. Results indicate that chills are often experienced as a mixed and moving emotional state, and commonly occur in isolated listening contexts. Recurring musical features linked to chills include crescendos, the human voice, lyrics, and concepts such as unity and communion in the music. Findings are discussed in terms of theories regarding musical chills, and implications for future empirical testing of the response.