William and Mary professor studies what gives us the “chills”

Posted at 5:34 PM, Oct 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-30 17:34:26-04

Williamsburg, Va. (WTKR) - A William and Mary professor has been studying what gives folks the "chills."

Todd Thrash, an associate professor of psychology at The College, had studied the topic since 2009.

In general, he divides the reactions like goose bumps, shivers, tingling and coldness into two categories.

Positive ones he calls "goosetingles."

"Goosetingles is a pleasant experience and its elicited by expressions of love, altruism, sublime awe," Thrash told NewsChannel 3's Todd Corillo Friday.

Negative reactions, such as coldness and the shivers, are classified as "coldshivers" by Thrash.

"Coldshivers is an unpleasant aversive experience and its prompted by threat of various sorts. Achievement threat. Failure. Loss or abandonment. Physical threats such as spooky things in the environment."

Even though the negative chills might be scary in the moment, Thrash believes there is inherent value to the situations that elicit them.

"Experiencing the full range of emotions and getting in touch with the things that speak to us at our core. So there are a lot of things that we care about deeply that we might not think about. Such as the value of our existence."