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Surprising Science

Goose Bump Technology

Researchers think goose-bumps probably reflect a distinct emotional state, a kind of awed mixture of fear and joy. English and French lack a word for this, but German has two.

Goose flesh, that rather odd form of emotional reaction in which a chill is felt and bumps form on the skin and the hairs stand erect, was noted by Darwin and still has scientists intrigued. Research into ‘piloerection’ had been hampered by the lack of an objective measure, until now. A new camera has found that film is a more reliable provoker of goose-bumps than music. “The researchers’ conclusion is that given the low specificity of other physiological measures of emotion, measuring goose-bumps objectively could prove to be a useful new tool in the psychologist’s armamentarium when studying emotional responses.”


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