People tend to get goose bumps when they experience cold or strong emotions, and the response is usually involuntary, thus acting as a genuine indicator of emotional reactions.
In a recent study, a team of researchers proposed that this reaction is often a blend of emotions that could be most closely likened to awe.
“Certainly, people could lie about their feeling goose bumps to create a false impression,” study co-author Richard Smith at the University of Kentucky told The Daily Telegraph.
“But often, they can use the fact of their, natural, unfaked feeling of goose bumps in reaction to someone as a way of communicating a special reaction.”
“People don’t usually control the reaction in themselves, so it suggests strongly that one has had an uncontrolled, positive, and special reaction.”
The team asked students to write down a description of every time they got goose bumps in a journal for one month. Mostly, people were just cold, but the second most frequent experience was awe, usually due to something that someone else had done.
“Once the trivial cases of cold were removed, goose bumps seems quite social in nature, either directly, through talent or performances, or indirectly, such as hearing music produced by someone,” Smith told the newspaper.
“Your natural, unfaked emotions flow from something praiseworthy.”
Smith added that the response “may even be a kind of emotion lie detector.”
The study was published in the journal Motivation and Emotion.
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