Two types of peak emotional responses to music: The psychophysiology of chills and tears.

Author: Mori K1,2,3, Iwanaga M4
1Center for Information and Neural Networks (CiNet), National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, and Osaka University, Suita-shi, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.
2Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, Osaka University, Suita-shi, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.
3Advanced Research Centers, Keio University, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 108-8345, Japan.
4Graduate School of Integrated Arts and Sciences, Higashihiroshima-shi, Hiroshima, 739-8521, Japan.
Conference/Journal: Sci Rep.
Date published: 2017 Apr 7
Other: Volume ID: 7 , Pages: 46063 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1038/srep46063. , Word Count: 203

People sometimes experience a strong emotional response to artworks. Previous studies have demonstrated that the peak emotional experience of chills (goose bumps or shivers) when listening to music involves psychophysiological arousal and a rewarding effect. However, many aspects of peak emotion are still not understood. The current research takes a new perspective of peak emotional response of tears (weeping, lump in the throat). A psychophysiological experiment showed that self-reported chills increased electrodermal activity and subjective arousal whereas tears produced slow respiration during heartbeat acceleration, although both chills and tears induced pleasure and deep breathing. A song that induced chills was perceived as being both happy and sad whereas a song that induced tears was perceived as sad. A tear-eliciting song was perceived as calmer than a chill-eliciting song. These results show that tears involve pleasure from sadness and that they are psychophysiologically calming; thus, psychophysiological responses permit the distinction between chills and tears. Because tears may have a cathartic effect, the functional significance of chills and tears seems to be different. We believe that the distinction of two types of peak emotions is theoretically relevant and further study of tears would contribute to more understanding of human peak emotional response.

PMID: 28387335 DOI: 10.1038/srep46063