Why don't we all get goosebumps when listening to music?

Why don't we all get goosebumps when listening to music?

There is said to be songs that reach the soul and others that do not.

When a specific topic manages to do it, a great number of physical reactions, from crying to the famous goosebumps.

However, not everyone does. For example, I am quite prone to experience the latter; both listening to music, watching movies or simply remembering a specific event, but there are people who very infrequently or directly it never happens to them. Does that mean they have a problem? Logically not. Not reacting in the same way to these situations does not have to be bad, but it is true that it is curious that some people show the reaction of the goosebumps Others do not, so different branches of science have spent years trying to unravel the mystery. And although it is still not entirely clear, it seems that the psychologist has a pretty plausible answer.

What is goosebumps?

Goosebumps is a reaction caused by a muscle, called erector pili, which is inserted in the hair follicles, causing the hair stands on end under certain situations.

It is considered a vestigial organ, since its functions were clear in our ancestors, who still kept their skin covered in a thick coat of hair, but does not seem to have a function at present.

When there is a lot of hair it can serve to increase the apparent size before a threat or for reset heat faced with a drop in temperature, but with the little hair that we have today, these two functions will be ruled out.

So it seems that we only keep it as a way of externalize our emotions, although perhaps it has hidden something else that has not yet been discovered by science.

Psychology may explain why not all of us experience goosebumps equally.

Focusing on music, if a passage causes us to goosebumps It is usually to contain abrupt changes and possibly unexpected which further embellish the melody.

For example, to me one of the songs that plays the most goosebumps is the Beethoven’s ninth symphony, which contains a large number of instrumental turns in which the intensity is abruptly changed or the chorus unexpectedly.

All this knowledge has led to a group of psychologists from the University of Washington to carry out a study in which the galvanic skin response to a group of volunteers as they listened to a list of selected musical fragments for having these sudden turns I was telling you about.

A survey was then carried out on all of them, asking how they felt while listening to each passage. As expected, the moments in which physiologically showed emotion they corresponded to those they had counted in the survey, but that was not the most curious thing, since they also found a possible cause for which not everyone had experienced the famous goosebumps.

The survey also delved into the personality type of each participant, establishing if they have a trait known as openness to experience.

How is openness associated with goosebumps experience?

This trait is associated with curious people, with imagination and eager to learn new stuff. Therefore, those who own it do not just listen to the music and enjoy it, but they enter it trying to analyze it and think about what will come next, being more aware of these turns, which could go unnoticed someone with a different personality.

So it’s not about having a problem or knowing more or less about music, but being more imaginative.

As a curiosity, to conclude, I remember that a piano teacher I had years ago used to tell me that Mozart I should have drunk writing the end of the second movement of the Sonata facile, because the last two lines of the staff gave a sudden change and did not seem to follow any known structure. And now I think: will he be drunk or try to make us shudder? Be that as it may, it is clear that he succeeded. And not just once.

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