Dr. Eugen Wassiliwizky

Research Interests

  • Aesthetic emotions
  • Physiological correlates of emotional processes
  • Neural correlates of self representation
  • Attention regulation and consciousness

Current Research Projects:

Several studies have shown that emotional goosebumps are tightly related to episodes of being moved/touched. But what about other emotions?

Shivers down the spine in poetry and music
In this study, we compare the physiological and neural correlates of music- and poetry-induced chills/goosebumps.



Academic Education

2012-2017PhD in Psychology, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
11/2010Diploma in Psychology
2009-2010Diploma thesis at the Max-Planck-Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany („Orienting response to emotional  environmental sounds“)
2005-2010Studies of Psychology, Classics and Musicology, Philipps Universität, Marburg, Germany

Professional Experience

Since 2013research fellow at the Max-Planck-Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
2011-2013research fellow at the Cluster of Excellence „Languages of Emotion“, Freie Universität Berlin
2010Research internship as research trainee at the McGill University, Montréal/School of Communication Sciences & Disorders (Neuroprogmatics and Emotion Lab, Marc Pell, PhD)
2008Internship at the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI), Montréal


Journal Articles

Wassiliwizky, E. (2017). At the root of the paradox: Comment on “An integrative review of the enjoyment of sadness associated with music” by Tuomas Eerola et al. Physics of Life Reviews. doi:10.1016/j.plrev.2017.12.008

Menninghaus, W., Wagner, V., Hanich, J., Wassiliwizky, E., Jacobsen, T., & Koelsch, S. (2017). Authors’ Response: Negative emotions in art reception: Refining theoretical assumptions and adding variables to the Distancing-Embracing model. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 40, 44-51, e380. doi:   doi:10.1017/S0140525X17001947

Menninghaus, W., Wagner, V., Hanich, J., Wassiliwizky, E., Jacobsen, T., & Koelsch, S. (2017). The Distancing-Embracing model of the enjoyment of negative emotions in art reception. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 40, e347.  doi:10.1017/S0140525X17000309

Wassiliwizky, E., Koelsch, S., Wagner, V., Jacobsen, T., & Menninghaus, W. (2017). The emotional power of poetry: Neural circuitry, psychophysiology and compositional principles. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 12(8), 1229-1240. doi:10.1093/scan/nsx069

Menninghaus, W., Wagner, V., Wassiliwizky, E., Jacobsen, T., & Knoop, C. A. (2017). The emotional and aesthetic powers of parallelistic diction. Poetics, 63, 47-59.  doi:10.1016/j.poetic.2016.12.001

Wassiliwizky, E., Jacobsen, T., Heinrich, J., Schneiderbauer, M., & Menninghaus, W. (2017). Tears Falling on Goosebumps: Co-occurrence of Emotional Lacrimation and Emotional Piloerection Indicates a Psychophysiological Climax in Emotional Arousal. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 41. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00041

Menninghaus, W., Wagner, V., Hanich, J., Wassiliwizky, E., Kuehnast, M., & Jacobsen, T. (2015). Towards a Psychological Construct of Being Moved. Plos One, 10(6), e0128451. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0128451

Wassiliwizky, E., Wagner, V., Jacobsen, T., & Menninghaus, W. (2015).Art-elicited chills indicate states of being moved. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 9(4), 405-416. doi:10.1037/aca0000023

Kuehnast, M., Wagner, V., Wassiliwizky, E., Jacobsen, T., & Menninghaus, W. (2014). Being Moved: Linguistic Representation and Conceptual Structure. Frontiers in Psychology, 5.   doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01242        PDF  

Rigoulot, S., Wassiliwizky, E., & Pell, M. D. (2013). Feeling backwards? How temporal order in speech affects the time course of vocal emotion recognition. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 367. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00367


Wassiliwizky, E. (2017). Physiological correlates and neural circuitry of being moved (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from  http://www.diss.fu-berlin.de/diss/receive/FUDISS_thesis_000000105818 

Wassiliwizky, E. (2010). Relativer Einfluss affektiver Stimuluseigenschaften und der Vertrautheit auf die Aufmerksamkeitsorientierung: Ereigniskorrelierte Potenziale auf aufgabenirrelevante Umweltgeräusche (Thesis). Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften, Leipzig, Germany.

Awards and Grants

Fellowships and Academic Awards

2003  Award of the city of Trier for best achievements in a Contest for Ancient Languages "Certamen-Rheno-Palatinum"
2006-2010Scholarship for gifted students of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation
2012-2014 Graduate-Scholarship of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation


  • Elegance

    This project focuses on the cognitive and affective implications of elegance, the range of phenomena that have the potential to be elegant, and the aesthetic and phenomenological qualia of (experiencing) elegance. Moreover, it investigates ...

  • Defining "aesthetic emotions"

    The projects is devoted to reviewing the philosophical and psychological research on "aesthetic emotions". Its objective is to cover the topic in a major theoretical review paper and to develop a multi-dimensional model of "aesthetic ...

  • Behavioral, physiological and neural substrates of parallelistic diction

    In a series of studies we investigate the behavioral and physiological effects as well as the neural substrates of the numerous features of parallelistic diction (such as alliteration, meter, anaphora, and many others), as used in poetry, proverbs, ...

  • Lyrical speech melody

    Since antiquity, poets have been likened to singers. The Romantic understanding of poetry has further reinforced the analogies between music and poetry. Our project investigates the extent to which this analogy can be pushed beyond meter and rhyme to ...

  • Horripilation

    Several studies have shown that emotional goosebumps are tightly related to episodes of being moved/touched. But what about other emotions? A wide-spread language use associates emotional goosebumps with experiencing horror (horripilation); however, ...

  • Shivers down the spine in poetry and music

    The wise reader reads the book of genius not with his heart, not so much with his brain, but with his spine.