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What is frisson?

By: Kane Hippisley-Gatherum

Posted on 07 October, 2018


What is frisson?

Have you ever been listening to a piece of music, watching a viral online video, taking in a live performance, or reading an incredible piece of writing, and suddenly felt goosebumps out of sheer amazement or joy? Well, that’s called frisson.

Frisson is the sensation of shivers and/or goosebumps you get as a reaction to something other than the temperature. 

Let that sink in: Truly amazing content, whether it be written, video, or audio, can give the person consuming it not only a mental reaction, but also a physical one.

So what kind of content provokes frisson? 

Well, it differs for everyone based on their tastes in content, and not everyone experiences frisson, even when viewing, reading, or listening to something they consider to be outstanding. Studies have shown that somewhere between 55 and 86 percent of the population are able to experience frisson. 

What does this mean for publishers and brands?

Choosing the right content for publication can be a difficult task, but a good first step is to always think about the audience. Ensuring that a piece of content—whether that be a video, a podcast, or an article—will engage its target audience, benefiting them through providing entertainment or information, is crucial to success in publishing. 

Brands and publishers looking to license content must think hard about what kind of emotions they want to instill in their audience. Memorable content is successful content, and its potential for virality is likely to engage readers, listeners, or viewers on a level that other content might not.  

Viral videos are a great example of content which can provoke frisson. Great videos capture our attention and make us think, laugh, or cry. Truly incredible videos can go further, giving us  goosebumps. 

And those are the videos which we will remember, return to, and share.

Image via Shutterstock