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New findings link a specific personality trait to ‘chills’ felt while listening to music

Music is a universally moving force. Melodic arrangement and various rhythms and tempos give sound the ability to prompt various reactions, from emotion to meditative states. While most humans appreciate music to a certain degree, recent studies have pointed out that a large portion of the population is more greatly impacted by it than others. A Utah State Ph.D. student decided to look deeper into this phenomenon, exposing a convincing link between cognitive personality type and being moved by music.

Participants in the experiment were asked to take a personality test and listen to a series of powerful song clips whose composers included Hans Zimmer, Vangelis, and Chopin. Frisson, or the feeling of “chills” one gets from stimuli such as hearing a burst of soulful sounds was measured throughout the listening experience. Current research theorizes around 55-86% of the population is able to feel frisson, with music being a particularly powerful trigger.

Upon comparing levels of frisson recorded during the clip for each subject with results from the personality test, conductors of the study were built upon previous evidence of a connection between those scoring high on “Openness to Experience” and the degree of “chills” felt. “Openness to Experience” can be both emotional and cognitive; those with this trait tend to have active imaginations and a deep appreciation of beauty and nature.

The results of data analysis contrasted with prior hypotheses of emotional components catalyzing such high levels of frisson in finding it was in fact cognitive components that do, such as predicting what will happen next in a song or daydreaming while listening to music. Ultimately, this opens the door even wider for further investigation, such as how genres might play into the ratio of emotional and cognitive aspects triggering chills.

via: The Conversation

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