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Having chills may be related to a personality trait

Having chills may be related to a personality trait

June 12, 2024

The chills are a type of sensation in which it is felt as if an electric current was born in the nape or the upper part of the back and traverse the entire spine and skull to end up fusing with the rest of the body.

Although its description seems to be a process that contains some violence, the truth is that the chills often lead to a state of well-being and calm that is often accompanied by the appearance of goose bumps.

The chills and the personality

What causes the chills? Many things, but, specifically, situations that have to do with the aesthetic appreciation of an image, sound or idea.

However, some research indicates that the chills are something more than the fruit of being in the right place and time. Their appearance and frequency could be related to the personality type of the person experiencing them. In fact, a study recently published in Psychology of Music has found a link between the chills that you have listening to music and a personality dimension related to the personality trait of Openness to Experience.


In this research the cases of a hundred students who were given to listen to the same recording, which contained five pieces potentially generating chills of more or less intensity, were studied. The appearance or not of chills was measured by placing electricity sensors on the skin of the participants and asking them to press a button at the time they felt a chill.

In addition, the components of the group of participants also filled out personality questionnaires that included items that measured the 5 major personality traits: Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Neuroticism, Responsibility and Friendliness .

Crossing the data obtained through the personality tests and the stage in which the chills were measured, the researchers went on to see what interactions took place between the personality of the volunteers and these pleasant sensations produced by listening to music.

The results

As expected (judging from the results obtained in similar studies carried out previously) the frequency with which chills occurred showed a correlation with the score in Open Experience.

But the most curious of the results was that within the indicators used to give an Openness to Experience score, there was a facet of his that reflected especially well the correlation. It is a factor called Fantasy, What is it the tendency to pay attention to the subjective experiences imagined by oneself .

How are these findings explained?

Although the appearance of chills seems somewhat bland, this study (added to several others like that) shows that the degree to which they appear gives indications about the type of personality one has, at least those that are generated while listening to music .

Does this make sense? Actually, yes. Among other things, the chills are a symptom of the way you experience the moments when you listen to music , and provide information about how to react to certain stimuli.

In turn, these reactions may be modulated by the personality traits that are most prevalent in the person. In fact, not all people are capable of having chills, and some are more likely to have especially intense chills: it is not automatic and stereotyped responses that are activated in us in a predictable way. Personal characteristics play a role.

Specifically, the Feature of Opening to Experience and the Fantasy face measure the way in which stimulating, immersive situations are lived and that direct all the attention towards stimuli related to a strong emotional activation or a feeling of satisfaction.

So you already know. The chills are not just pleasant: they also say things about you .

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