A recent Study by Scientific Reports suggests that music can cause two major emotional and psychophysiological responses - tears and chills. The study, which was published in April of this year, found that these two "peak emotional responses" appear to directly correlate to listening to certain Types Of Music. Chills seem to be the result of listening to both sad and happy music, whereas tears are thought to be the result of listening solely to sad music. Furthermore, the kind of music that causes tears is believed to be soothing compared with the kind of music that causes chills.

Tears caused by music

We are all familiar with the feeling of welling up when we hear a particular song or are moved by music in some way. What is interesting is that this study suggests that tears brought on by music are therapeutic in such a way that tears are not only the result of a feeling of sadness but perhaps also a result of pleasure and a sense of calm. So when you are listening to a powerfully sad song and you feel that lump in your throat rise and tears begin to spill gently over your eyelids, don't be surprised if this is accompanied by a sense of relief and pleasure. This is believed to be the body's natural response when releasing stress and tension, with music used as a medium to bring forth these underlying emotions.

Chills caused by music

What was once thought to be an accompanying physiological response to tears, chills are now believed to be a separate "peak emotional response" on their own. Chills, "a set of bodily sensations, such as shivers or goose bumps", are not only caused by coldness or illness but also emotions. Chills are related to feelings of arousal and happiness, as they are thought to have a lot to do with increased brain activity and they are also believed to have a direct correlation to the release of dopamine, the well-known feel-good chemical.

So when listening to music, "the experience of chills seems to produce physiological arousal and reward for the listener".

It is also important to note that while tears and chills were found to be separate psychological and bodily responses to music, it is possible for them to happen simultaneously. So the next time you plug in your earphones and put on your favorite tunes, don't be perturbed if you're overcome by feelings of sadness, pleasure, calm and arousal at the same time! It's simply your body's (and brain's) way of letting go of pent-up emotion and embracing the resulting state of being.