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Goosebumps are good for your health

Brits who experience goosebumps are higher achievers, form stronger relationships and live happier, healthier lives

Tue Sep 11 19:01:00 EDT 2018

  • Over half of Brits experience goosebumps during live entertainment, and those who do are healthier and more empathetic, a new scientific study by Barclaycard has found 
  • People that feel the chills tend to be successful – achieving higher grades and earning 12 per cent more than those that don’t
  • Women are more likely to experience goosebumps than men, suggesting a deeper emotional connection to music
  • The study was conducted at Reading & Leeds festivals to celebrate Barclaycard Entertainment’s partnership with Live Nation

People who experience goosebumps during live entertainment form stronger relationships, are higher achievers and are healthier than those that don’t, according to a new scientific study by Barclaycard*.

The first of its kind experiment led by Matthew Sachs, Harvard University researcher, alongside Robin Murphy, Professor of Experimental Psychology at The University of Oxford, was held at Reading & Leeds festivals over two days in August.

The study saw 100 participants watch a live performance while wearing a monitoring device to test their physiological responses including heart rate and movement to music. At the same time, a series of psychometric tests were conducted to discover who experiences a ‘goosebump moment’ ­and what that says about you.

What the shivers really deliver

The experiment found more than half (55 per cent) of Brits are susceptible to experiencing goosebumps during live entertainment, with a chill inducing moment most likely to occur within the first minute of a performance. A total of 126 goosebump moments were experienced during the study, averaging at 2.8 per minute.

The findings suggest clear personality profiles exist when it comes to the likelihood of experiencing goosebumps**. Those that felt the shivers at least once during the festival described themselves as more empathetic and agreeable in their relationships than ‘non-chills’ participants.

Women in the study were shown to be more likely to experience goosebumps than men (55 per cent and 46 per cent respectively), suggesting they are able to make deeper and more emotional connections to music. Those in the chills group also had an increased interest in creative pursuits such as baking (70 per cent), painting (48 per cent) and writing (40 per cent) than non-chills participants.

The connection to health and wealth

People that feel the goosebumps while watching live entertainment are also in better physical and emotional health than those that don’t, reporting a more positive mood (66 per cent vs 46 per cent) and enhanced overall wellbeing (88 per cent vs 80 per cent). Those that experience goosebumps are also found to be more sociable, forming stronger friendships (80 per cent) and having less arguments with their friends and family (40 per cent).

In contrast, non-chills participants tended to have lower positive mood scores and felt less connected to the people around them. But, it’s not all bad news for those that aren’t susceptible to goosebumps as this group were found to be more confident (82 per cent vs 60 per cent). 

Additional research conducted by Barclaycard also found those that feel the shivers are more likely to be successful. They are more likely to hold a university degree qualification or above (43 per cent) and earn an average of 12 per cent more per annum compared to those that don’t experience goosebumps***.

Moments and memories make you feel more

A further (65 per cent) reported feeling more goosebumps when watching live entertainment events than other expected ‘goosebump moments’, such as watching their partner walk down the aisle at their wedding (16 per cent), being told ‘I love you’ for the first time (25 per cent) and seeing their child being born (23 per cent).

The goosebump effect also varies across generations, with Generation Z (aged 18 – 25) more susceptible to the chills, with over a fifth (22 per cent) getting the shivers around 10 times per month. In contrast, while age often brings wisdom, the results suggested it may make you less sensitive too as baby boomers (aged over 55) experienced the goosebump phenomenon less often, at an average of four times per month.  

Participants that reported an emotional memory associated with the performance or lyrics of a song doubled their chances of experiencing goosebumps. Collective crowd experience, such as singing and dancing along was also a key factor for delivering the shivers.

Daniel Mathieson, Head of Experiential Marketing at Barclaycard, said:

“Most of us can relate to experiencing goosebumps when watching live entertainment, and now we have a clear understanding of why this happens and what it means for us as individuals.

“The results reflect the overwhelmingly positive impact music and live entertainment can have on our lives ranging from health and happiness to overall wellbeing. It’s truly exciting to be part of the first ever scientific study of its kind.”

Robin Murphy, Researcher at Oxford University, added:

“The phenomenon of goosebumps has intrigued us for many years and having the opportunity to test participants in a live setting has certainly provided some food for thought. 

“The results of the Barclaycard study are the first to show the different personality traits that characterise people who experience goosebumps. The evidence also suggests that being truly connected with live entertainment and getting goosebumps, has an impact on our overall sense of well-being and mood.”

The Barclaycard Entertainment Live Nation Partnership sees sponsorship of eight music festivals across the UK and includes benefits such as 2019 festival pre-sales and 10% back at the checkout when you buy through Barclaycard Entertainment.

Notes to editors

Read additional information and the full report

*Matthew Sachs and Robin Murphy carried out the experiment with a total of 100 participants at Reading & Leeds festivals on location at Reading Festival on Saturday 25 August and Leeds Festival on Sunday 26 August.

**Participants completed attitudinal questionnaires on location at Reading & Leeds immediately before and after watching a performance using the PANAS to assess current mood (Watson, Clark & Tellegen, 1988), the Ten Item Personality Index to assess the Big 5 personality traits (Gosling, Rentfrow & Swann, 2003), the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (“The Goldsmiths Musical Sophistication Index, v1. 0”, 2012) to assess musical training and engagement with music and the ‘Satisfaction with Life questionnaire’ to asses well-being (Diener, Oishi & Lucas, 2003).

***Independent omnibus research was also conducted by One Poll in September 2018 to support the study.           

Definitions of emotional empathy and agreeableness: (Source: Dr John A. Johnson of Penn. State University on Psychometric Success)

Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. So, in the context of this study, participants who displayed strong empathetic values were those who engaged most with the environment around them, enjoying the collective experience of the performance, reacting to the artist’s own displays of emotion and mirroring the responses of the audience.

Agreeableness

Agreeableness reflects individual differences in concern with cooperation and social harmony. Agreeable individuals value getting along with others and are therefore considerate, friendly, generous, helpful and willing to compromise their interests with others.

By contrast, disagreeable individuals place self-interest above getting along with others. They are generally unconcerned with others’ well-being, and therefore are unlikely to extend themselves for other people. Common personality traits include being more suspicious, unfriendly and uncooperative.

For further information please contact Rebecca Butler, PR Manager at Barclaycard on Rebecca.Butler@barclaycard.co.uk / 020 7116 1993 

About Barclaycard

Barclaycard, part of Barclays Bank PLC, is a leading global payment business that helps consumers, retailers and businesses to make and take payments flexibly, and to access short-term credit and point-of-sale finance. In 2017 we processed over £250bn in transactions globally. Barclaycard is a pioneer of new forms of payment and is at the forefront of developing viable contactless and mobile payment schemes for today and cutting-edge forms of payment for the future. We also partner with a wide range of organisations across the globe to offer their customers or members payment options and credit.

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About Live Nation

Live Nation Entertainment (NYSE: LYV) is the world’s leading live entertainment company comprised of global market leaders: Ticketmaster, Live Nation Concerts, and Live Nation Sponsorship. For additional information, visit www.livenationentertainment.com.