Skip to main content

Goosebumps on an arm

A study by a Durham Psychology researcher has found that goosebumps happen far more frequently than you think - and you may not even know you have them.

Dr Jonathon McPhetres has studied whether people are aware of when they experience goosebumps and where they experience them on their bodies. 

Bringing on the goosebumps

As part of this, he asked people to watch a range of positive video clips, including an America’s Got Talent audition and a heartwarming family advert, and press a button when they felt they had goosebumps.

Meanwhile, equipment recorded their skin temperature and heart rate.

Observers also reviewed footage of the skin of those taking part.

In addition, participants were asked to watch a video and then click on an image of the body to indicate where they thought goosebumps had appeared.

The results

Most participants experienced goosebumps more frequently than they were aware of and only tended to pay attention to their forearms, with many not pressing their button despite goosebumps being visibly present.

The findings show that humans have an inability to always detect when they are experiencing goosebumps and it happens on more parts of the body than we realise.

It also means that the psychological experience of goosebumps in humans may be less significant than previously assumed.

Details of the study have been published in Psychophysiology, a specialist journal promoting work in the field of psychophysiological science.

Find out more

Our Department of Psychology prides itself on being a collegiate and welcoming department, committed to success for all who work here.

Feeling inspired? Visit our Psychology webpages to learn more about our postgraduate and undergraduate programmes.