Whether we’re dragging our friends to haunted houses or watching horror movies in an abandoned basement, most of us get goosebumps when something eerie happens.
Apparently, our bodies mimic animals when they get threatened and attempt to look as big as possible. David Huron, a musicologist from Ohio State University says, “The general principle is, if you are going to be attacked, try to look as big as you can.”
So, when we get the goosebumps and the hairs on our body begin to stand up, it is our body reacting and trying to make itself appear larger. This was even more effective when our bodies were furrier.
According to evolutionary belief, as humans evolved, hair-raising was initially a response to cold, for it insulates a layer of air surrounding the body. However, Popular Science says that millions of years ago, the mechanism was transformed into a method of self-defense. This explains why fear is also correlated with cold weather—No wonder most haunted houses blast their air conditioner to ungodly temperatures.
Another reason we get the chills is through intense emotions. It’s not rare to get goosebumps through music or “sad passages.” Huron says, “The brain can tolerate thousands of false alarms in order to protect us from the one occasion when the alarm is real.”
It also has to do with the stress hormone, adrenaline. Similarly, we get rushes of adrenaline when we are cold, scared stressed, angry and excited.
That’s why when we watch a scary movie or get scared to death at a haunted theme park, the chills that we get are somewhat pleasurable. The conscious parts of our brains establish that everything is okay and we’re not really in any real danger.