If you can give yourself goosebumps, your brain might be special

If you can give yourself goosebumps, your brain might be special

If you can give yourself goosebumps, your brain might be special


It might sound like a bit of a lame superpower, but the ability yourself goosebumps can have some unexpected benefits.

Yep, some of us can raise their own body hair whenever they want - though we haven't got to the bottom of why you'd want to yet - and not just unconsciously when cold, afraid or aroused.

A landmark study, which was released prior to peer review, involved 32 participants who can give themselves goosebumps.

It found that nearly three quarters of them said they deliberately triggered goosebumps to heighten emotional experiences, while engaged in activities like sex, listening to music or dancing.

Sign up to our new free Indy100 weekly newsletter

Half of them also used their ability to prolong involuntary goosebumps.

Not only can people with this ability enhance pleasurable emotional experiences, but they also scored much higher on the personality trait of Openness - which is often associated with self-experimentation - and they experienced the state of absorption more often than normal.

Most participants thought the bizarre ability to raise tiny hairs on your skin at will was normal and were surprised to learn that others cannot do it.

Many of them struggled to explain exactly how they did it with responses including:

"I tighten a muscle behind my ears … and the goosebumps appear on my back and then travel to my arms."

"I think about goose-bumps, they start to appear, I shudder/shiver, and there they are."

"I flex a ‘muscle’ in my brain. Sometimes I have to concentrate a little if I’ve been doing it a while."

The majority of those surveyed noticed their ability in adolescence or early adulthood, though two said they'd only realised it after reading the description on Facebook, where the study was carried out.

Obviously, we should take the study with a pinch of salt: no one knows the prevalence of the ability - though out of 682 first-year psychology student screened in the study, none of them had the ability. Nor do researchers understand how the phenomenon works.

James Heather, the lead author on the study, is as jealous as the rest of us of those who have this strange superpower.

Can you do it? Your country's researchers need you.

The Conversation (0)