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Durham University



Mr Scott Bannister

Member of the Department of Music

Contact Mr Scott Bannister (email at


Scott Bannister is currently in his third year of PhD study in the Department of Music. His thesis aims to better understand the phenomenon of musical chills, goosebumps and shivers whilst listening to music. His experimental work attempts to identify and test causal psychological processes underlying musical chills and various musical and acoustic features. Furthermore, a crucial theoretical underpinning of the thesis being tested and explored, is that when discussing existing relationships between music and chills and possible causal mechanisms of the experience, there is a need to consider the possibility of phenomenologically distinct chills responses, which may differ in terms of elicitors and experience. This would have substantial implications for existing psychological literature, and future paradigms for researching aesthetic chills experiences.

The research has real world applications for music therapy, such that if particular emotions can be elicited fairly consistently, then specific therapeutic goals may be achieved in music listening episodes. The thesis also has far reaching, interdisciplinary implications beyond music psychology, in understanding aesthetics, moral emotions and social processing and cognition.

Scott graduated from Lancaster University with a BA in Music technology in 2014, writing his dissertation on goose bumps during listening and their correlation with structural features of the music. He then graduated from the University of Leeds in 2015 with distinction with a MA in Applied Psychology of Music; his master’s dissertation analysed acoustic parameters in music (timbre, dynamics, and tempo) and how they affected listener perception of emotion in short melodies.

He is currently a recipient of the AHRC funded Northern Bridge Doctoral Award, and is a graduate teaching assistant for Music and Science and Psychology of Music modules.

Research Interests

  • Music and emotion
  • Music and film
  • Music and neuroscience
  • Social perception and cognition


Journal Article