Certain Physical Response to Music Signals Good Well-Being

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. goosebumps / ˈguːsbʌmps / (n) – rough, small bumps on the skin caused by certain emotions

    The horror movie gave me goosebumps!

  2. empathetic / ɛmpəˈθɛtɪk / (adj) – having the ability to relate and share the feelings of others

    I am so lucky to have empathetic friends who understand how I feel.

  3. immerse / ɪˈmɚs / (v) – to involve oneself in an activity

    I was immersed in the comforting sounds of classical music.

  4. phenomenon / fiˈnɑːməˌnɑːn / (n) – an observable situation that is not common or difficult to explain

    Scientists are still unable to explain the phenomenon.

  5. affirmation / ˌæfɚˈmeɪʃən / (n) – the act of recognizing something as true

    The daughter’s sweet messages to her parents are an affirmation of love.


Read the text below.

Experiencing goosebumps indicates healthy life and good relationships, a new study has found.

The research was part of the Summer of Goosebumps study, which was commissioned by global credit card and payment services company Barclaycard. Matthew Sachs, a researcher from Harvard University, and Robin Murphy, a professor at the University of Oxford, both led the study. They determined whether or not experiencing goosebumps says something about a person’s state of health and personality.

During the Reading [RED-ing] and Leeds music festivals last summer, the researchers analyzed how 100 participants responded to a live music performance. The participants, who wore a monitoring device, underwent a series of tests that measured their heart rates, movement to music, and instances when they had goosebumps. The participants also answered questions about their personalities.

Results showed that 55% of the participants experienced goosebumps during the live performance. Among these participants, 66% considered themselves emotionally and physically healthy during the course of the experiment. Those who felt goosebumps at some point in the experiment also labeled themselves as empathetic and agreeable in relationships.

With these findings, the researchers concluded that experiencing goosebumps while being fully immersed in a live music performance affects individuals’ well-being and temperament.

After the experiment, the researchers conducted a follow-up survey among 2,000 adults. Results of the survey revealed that 77% of the respondents experienced the phenomenon. The survey also found that positive emotional events, such as hearing certain words of affirmation and seeing a newborn child for the first time, caused some respondents to experience goosebumps.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think knowing more about goosebumps is value-adding? Why or why not?
• In your opinion, should researchers further study the association between physical phenomena and health? Explain.

Discussion B

• Aside from goosebumps, what other physical phenomena should researchers examine (e.g. being ticklish, blushing)? Discuss.
• Which of these physical phenomena interests you the most? Why?