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Do You Know Why You Always Get Goosebumps?

Christina Lin

Do You Know Why You Always Get Goosebumps?

Have you ever wondered why you get goosebumps? Whether it's that moment when your nails scrape against a chalkboard when you're listening to a ghost story, or when you've been exposed to cold air from an air conditioner for an extended period of time, have you ever found yourself involuntarily experiencing hair-raising goosebumps? If so, have you ever pondered the reason behind this phenomenon?

Goosebumps, also known as "goosebumps" in English, are the smooth muscle fibers called arrector pili that are attached to hair follicles on our skin. When people experience certain nerve stimulation, their body temperature rapidly decreases, leading to the contraction of the arrector pili muscles (also known as piloerector muscles). This causes the hairs on the skin to stand upright, and at the same time, the skin appears with grain-like raised spots, which is what we call goosebumps.

It is named goosebumps because its appearance resembles the bumps on the skin of a goose. As for goosebumps, we have no control over their occurrence or disappearance. The presence of goosebumps is a result of the autonomous movement of hair follicles on the skin.


Physiological factors, emotional factors, and environmental factors can all trigger goosebumps. For example, when we hear the sound of nails scraping a chalkboard, it can cause goosebumps.

The reason behind this is that the moment of nail friction creates a harsh, piercing sound that stimulates our cochlea, causing discomfort in our brains. This also triggers our nerve endings, resulting in goosebumps appearing on our arms, making us feel uneasy. This is an example of how environmental factors can induce goosebumps.

Generally speaking, experiencing goosebumps is just a normal psychological response. However, if it occurs frequently, we should not overlook it, as it could be a "call for help" signal from the body!

According to the literature "Goose bumps' as presenting feature of intraventricular glioblastoma multiforme," there has been a rare medical case reported where a patient with epilepsy experienced unilateral goosebumps before being diagnosed with the condition. However, the patient ignored this symptom, considering it a normal reaction, and did not report it to the doctor, who also overlooked this feature.

Subsequent diagnostic investigations revealed that the occurrence of unilateral goosebumps was associated with the presence of epilepsy. Based on the analysis, although goose bumps are a common occurrence on our skin and often overlooked, they should not be disregarded as a medical symptom. The appearance of goose bumps may indicate underlying issues with our body organs, serving as a warning signal.

“Piloerection is observed as goose bumps on the skin when a person is emotionally moved or scared. Piloerection changes skin texture, because of which we think it effective to examine skin texture to estimate the subject’s emotions.”(Uchida from Aji University, Miyawaki from Yoichi, Sato Katsunari.)

According to the literature, our goosebumps can be used to estimate human emotions. Goose bumps are caused by the contraction of the arrector pili muscles, which can change the texture of our skin. Therefore, scientists can estimate our emotions by measuring the changes in skin texture.

Goosebumps also play a role in animals. When animals get goosebumps, the outer layer of their skin forms an air layer, which helps in insulating them and reduces heat loss, enabling them to survive better.

Goosebumps are a common occurrence and can appear on our skin at any time. It is not something to be surprised about. Scientists are still conducting research on the effects of goosebumps in humans and exploring other related applications.

Work Cited:

"The Integumentary System." Body by Design: From the Digestive System to the Skeleton, UXL, 2007. Gale In Context: Science, Accessed 26 June 2023.Uchida, Mihiro, et al. “Image-Based Measurement of Changes to Skin Texture Using Piloerection for Emotion Estimation.” Artificial Life and Robotics, vol. 24, no. 1, May 2018, pp. 12–18. Crossref,, George et al. “The role of piloerection in primate thermoregulation.” Folia primatologica; international journal of primatology vol. 85,1 (2014): 1-17. doi:10.1159/000355007Asha, Mohammed J et al. “'Goose bumps' as presenting feature of intraventricular glioblastoma multiforme.” British journal of neurosurgery vol. 28,2 (2014): 276-7. doi:10.3109/02688697.2013.817530

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