Fun Facts About Goosebumps

Updated on October 17, 2023.

You know the feeling: A distinct tingle on the skin, an almost electric feeling as a shiver courses along your body and the hairs on your arms stand on end. You may get goosebumps from a momentary feeling of fear, excitement, or anticipation. They may even crop up for no reason at all—or at least not one that you can consciously discern.

Everyone gets goosebumps, but their origin and purpose are still not fully understood. To help unravel the mystery of goosebumps, here are a few fascinating facts to know.

Where goosebumps got their name

The term “goosebumps” comes from the way a person’s skin looks when they form: like a plucked goose.

Official terms for the phenomenon

Medical terms for goosebumps are cutis anserina, piloerection, and horripilation.

They do serve a biological purpose

Animals get goosebumps to stay warm. When animals with thick coats of fur get cold, the hair rises and creates insulation to retain heat. Because humans lack such a thick coat, the reaction results in goosebumps.

They can arise from new and exciting experiences

Some people get goosebumps when they listen to music. A 2010 study from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro published in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that people who are more open to different types of music were more likely to get goosebumps and chills from listening.

They may be related to other forms of fowl

A person who is going through withdrawal from a drug may experience goosebumps – a possible explanation for the term “cold turkey.”

Article sources open article sources

Nusbaum, E. C., & Silvia, P. J. (2011). Shivers and Timbres: Personality and the Experience of Chills From Music. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2(2), 199-204.

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