Motivation and emotion/Book/2017/Goose bumps and emotion

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Goose bumps and emotion:
What is the relationship between goose bumps and emotions?
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Figure 1: insert goose bump fact here

What is the relationship between goose bumps and emotions?

Is it merely an evolutionary response to potential threats?

How can non-threatening stimuli, such as a beautiful song, elicit such a response?

What are goose bumps?[edit]

  • Goose bumps, also known as piloerection
  • Aptly named after the appearance of poultry's skin after the feathers have been plucked.
  • Minute muscles connected to each hair follicle contract. A shallow depression then forms on the skin's surface which, in turn, results in protrusion of the other surrounding areas (Bubenik, 2003)
  • Occurs in response to a multitude of stimuli including temperature, sexual attraction and intense emotions

What are emotions?[edit]

  • Despite being an experience shared by all, defining emotions is rather difficult and as such, a clear consensus has not been reached (Izard, 2007).
  • What are emotions? Emotions are highly subjective and comprise of several distinct components

Components of Emotion[edit]

  • Cognitive component
  • Physiological component
  • Behavioral component

Evolutionary significance of goose bump reactions[edit]

Figure 2: Goose bumps causes the fur on this dog's neck to raise in order to appear larger than he is and to discourage a potential attack
  • Animals utilize their piloerection responses for keeping warm by trapping a layer of air between the fur and attempting to appear larger to discourage potential attacks
  • Humans have less need for either of these so why do we still get goose bumps? Perhaps a remnant of an inherited mechanism (Kalat, 2016)

Why do certain emotions trigger goose bumps?[edit]

  • Sympathetic vs parasympathetic nervous system involvement in emotions.
  • James-Lange Theory : Appraisal of situation --> physiological response--> appropriate action (Weiten, 2014)
  • Visceral arousal, such as increased heart rate or piloerection, often follows an emotional response (Eid & Larsen, 2008)
  • Autonotmic nervous system plays a pivotal role in 'fight-or-flight' situations by controlling hormonal secretions from glands such as the adrenal glands (Weiten, 2014)
  • Secretion of stress hormone, adrenaline


what is the take-home message

See also[edit]


Bubenik, G. (2003). Why do humans get "goosebumps" when they are cold, or under other circumstances?Scientific American. Retrieved 18 August 2017, from

Eid, M., & Larsen, R. (2008). The science of subjective well-being. New York: Guilford Press.

Izard, C. (2007). Basic Emotions, Natural Kinds, Emotion Schemas, and a New Paradigm. Perspectives On Psychological Science2(3), 260-280.

KALAT, J. (2013). BIOLOGICAL PSYCHOLOGY (12th ed., pp. 104-114 356-370). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Weiten, W. (2014). Psychology (pp. 409-419). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Lerning.

External links[edit]

  • A judiciously selected few links to important other resources about this topic
  • Present in alphabetical order

For example: