Here's a Database of Media Scientifically Verified to Give You the Chills

A team of scientists scoured the internet and tested hundreds of people to come up with a list of stuff that will make you shiver (in a good way).
Here's a Database of Media Scientifically Verified to Give You the Chills
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Chills are an innate response for most people. Whether you’re watching a scary movie, or get some harrowing news, it’s a common emotional response to stimuli. And now, scientists have created a database of certain media that has the potential to give you the chills.

The group of researchers from MIT Media Lab, The Gonda Multidisciplinary Brain Research Centre in Israel, and the Institute for Advanced Consciousness Studies in California, published their findings in early March in Frontiers. 


“Chills are the spine-tingling sensations we experience when we are deeply engaged with music or movies,” Abhinandan Jain, the study’s lead author, told Motherboard in an email. “Although we know that chills stimulate brain regions associated with reward and emotion, there is still much we do not understand about the connection between the body and this powerful sensation and how the experience impacts our brain.”

In the study, the researchers utilized ChillsDB, an open-source repository of "validated" chill-inducing stimuli such as music, film and speech. This database was created by parsing through social media, i.e., YouTube and Reddit) by some of the same researchers who authored the new study. 

List of media that gives people the chills

Image: Jain et. al.

The paper singles out a few of these  clips as being the most likely to elicit chills in viewers. There’s the final battle between Indominus Rex, Tyrannosaurus Rex, and Velociraptors as it appeared in the movie “Jurassic World” (2015). There’s a fan made video of “The Hanging Tree” from the score of “The Hunger Games.” There’s even a fan made video of Disney heroes singing in their native languages, with medley images of their stories. Clearly, chilling stimuli aren’t always of the same variety. 


For the new study, the researchers chose the top 50 videos, randomly introduced these stimuli to 600+ people on a crowdsourcing platform, and evaluated their emotional ratings. They found that participants experiencing chills reported significantly more positive emotional valence and greater arousal during the experience, compared to participants who did not experience chills. 

"This indicates that the embodied emotion of chills causes participants to experience stimuli with greater emotional intensity," the authors wrote.

The authors believe that understanding the emotional consequences of chills can help guide mental health interventions. 

“The capacity of chills stimuli to induce positive emotional valence and greater arousal for the same stimulus regardless of prior emotional states may be relevant for mental health intervention e.g. to influence negatively valenced rumination in depression or negative affective bias in schizophrenics,” the authors write. They also argue that controlled manipulations could also be useful for mood disorders such as depression. The group is also developing a device to elicit the emotion artificially and investigate downstream cognitive effects. 

“We are currently exploring the option to enhance chills with neuromodulation (low intensity focused ultrasound pulsations) at the Institute of Advanced Consciousness Studies in Santa Monica," Jain wrote. “We are looking into the potential of using chills as a novel intervention for depression but it’s a long road ahead. In the future and if it yields the effects that we expect in clinical populations, we hope to bring this technology to the market as a novel form of body-based experience to draw people out of anhedonia and depression and be able to find meaning in life again."