Don't drink and chill: Effects of alcohol on subjective and physiological reactions during music listening and their relationships with personality and listening habits

Int J Psychophysiol. 2019 Aug;142:25-32. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2019.06.001. Epub 2019 Jun 4.


Recent research indicates that favorite music can induce chills and alters physiological reactions. People frequently listen to music when they drink alcohol, for example in bars or discotheques. Alcohol has numerous effects on emotions, peripheral physiological and neural reactions. We investigated whether alcohol intake influences chill experiences and physiological reactions during music listening. 39 participants took part in the study and were tested twice: Once in a sober condition and once when they had drunken alcohol. Participants listened to two pieces of music in each of the two conditions: A favorite self-selected song and a control-song that was selected by the research group. Participants had to indicate when they experienced a chill and electrodermal activity and heart rate were measured during music listening. In addition, participants filled out questionnaires concerning the big five personality dimensions, music listening habits and general chill experiences. Results indicate that participants experienced most chills when they were sober and listened to their self-selected song. Electrodermal activity was highest when participants were sober. In addition, alcohol intake led to a dedifferentiation in heart rate activity. After alcohol intake, participants had similar heart rates, no matter whether they listened to their self-selected song or to the control-song. Extraversion was negatively related with physiological reactions, while openness to experiences was positively related with physiological reactions. Music listening habits also showed various relationships with chill experiences and physiological reactions, while general chill experiences did not. We conclude that alcohol intake reduces subjective chill experiences during music listening and alters the physiological reactions to music. Music listening habits and personality seem to influence these effects.

Keywords: Alcohol; Chills; Electrodermal activity; Heart rate; Music; Music listening habits; Personality.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Auditory Perception / drug effects*
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / pharmacology*
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Galvanic Skin Response / physiology*
  • Habits*
  • Heart Rate / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Music*
  • Personality / physiology*
  • Young Adult


  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Ethanol