Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

Getting Aesthetic Chills From Music: A Huge Dose of Pleasure from One Hearing Only

Presenter Information

Mitchell ColverFollow

Class

Article

Department

School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

Many individuals experience waves of pleasure or "aesthetic chills" while listening to beautiful music and a rich body of literature has explained why. When expectations about how the music is going to unfold are developed within listener and subsequently violated by elements of the music, the listener's emotional systems are rewarded during an intense physiological shift that occurs in the midbrain. This shift dissipates into the body as intense waves of goosebumps or shivers. But how quickly can such musical expectations be created and, once created, what type of violations produce the greatest and most powerful effects? New research demonstrates that, in a truly elegant and intuitive way, our exposure to music throughout our lifetime makes our subconscious cognitive systems acutely attuned to the slightest variations in a musical piece as it unfolds. As a result, the smallest nuances of a musical passage can be extremely and emotionally potent. Results of the present research reveal that these effects can be produced even when a listener has had no previous exposure to a musical selection, allowing them to have an intense emotional reaction from one hearing only. Participants were invited to a research lab to complete a questionnaire and engage in a 10 minute listening session during which five different selections were presented. Participants' experience of aesthetic chills were recorded using both an elaborate self-reporting system and galvanic skin response. Following the listening session, participants indicated their level of familiarity and liking of each of the five pieces. Results show that, for many listeners, previous exposure to the piece of music was neither required nor critical to their experience of chills. Furthermore, one particularly stimulating musical passage only differed from its opening presentation by one note, which was sufficient enough to create an unconscious physiological response in roughly 25% of participants.

Start Date

4-9-2015 9:00 AM

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Apr 9th, 9:00 AM

Getting Aesthetic Chills From Music: A Huge Dose of Pleasure from One Hearing Only

Many individuals experience waves of pleasure or "aesthetic chills" while listening to beautiful music and a rich body of literature has explained why. When expectations about how the music is going to unfold are developed within listener and subsequently violated by elements of the music, the listener's emotional systems are rewarded during an intense physiological shift that occurs in the midbrain. This shift dissipates into the body as intense waves of goosebumps or shivers. But how quickly can such musical expectations be created and, once created, what type of violations produce the greatest and most powerful effects? New research demonstrates that, in a truly elegant and intuitive way, our exposure to music throughout our lifetime makes our subconscious cognitive systems acutely attuned to the slightest variations in a musical piece as it unfolds. As a result, the smallest nuances of a musical passage can be extremely and emotionally potent. Results of the present research reveal that these effects can be produced even when a listener has had no previous exposure to a musical selection, allowing them to have an intense emotional reaction from one hearing only. Participants were invited to a research lab to complete a questionnaire and engage in a 10 minute listening session during which five different selections were presented. Participants' experience of aesthetic chills were recorded using both an elaborate self-reporting system and galvanic skin response. Following the listening session, participants indicated their level of familiarity and liking of each of the five pieces. Results show that, for many listeners, previous exposure to the piece of music was neither required nor critical to their experience of chills. Furthermore, one particularly stimulating musical passage only differed from its opening presentation by one note, which was sufficient enough to create an unconscious physiological response in roughly 25% of participants.