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.

Here is the movie about the study



Academic Education

11/2017PhD in Psychology, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany ("Physiological correlates and neural circuitry of Being Moved")
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 2014Trainer for rhetoric, presentation techniques and scientific communication
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


Articles (in peer-reviewed journals)

Wassiliwizky, E., Wontorra, P. & Ullén, F. (2023) How being perceived to be an artist boosts feelings of attraction in others. Scientific Reports 13, 18747. doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-45952-0

Wassiliwizky, E. (2023). Book review: The Routledge International Handbook of Neuroaesthetics by Martin Skov and Marcos Nadal. Perception, 1–2. doi.org/10.1177/03010066231196840

Wassiliwizky, E., & Menninghaus, W. (2021). Why and How Should Cognitive Science Care about Aesthetics? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 25(6), 437–449. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2021.03.008

Menninghaus, W., Schindler, I., Wagner, V., Wassiliwizky, E., Hanich, J., Jacobsen, T., et al. (2020). Aesthetic Emotions Are a Key Factor in Aesthetic Evaluation: Reply to Skov and Nadal (2020).Psychological Review, 127(4), 650–654.  doi:10.1037/rev0000213.

Menninghaus, W., Wagner, V., Wassiliwizky, E., Schindler, I., Hanich, J., Jacobsen, T., & Koelsch, S. (2019). What are aesthetic emotions? Psychological Review, 126(2), 171–195.  doi:10.1037/rev0000135

Wassiliwizky, E. (2018). 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, 25, 136–138.  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, Article 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, Article 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, Article 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), Article 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), 405416. 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, Article 1242.   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, Article 367. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00367


Wassiliwizky, E. (2017). Physiological correlates and neural circuitry of Being Moved (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 (Diplomarbeit). Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften, Leipzig.

Book Chapter

Wassiliwizky, E., & Menninghaus, W. (2022). The Power of Poetry. In A. Chatterjee, & E. R. Cardillo (Eds.), Brain, Beauty, and Art: Essays Bringing Neuroaesthetics into Focus (pp. 182-187). New York: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oso/9780197513620.003.0036. 

Awards and Grants

2019Member of the Young Academy of Sciences and Literature, Mainz
2019Visiting Scholarschip at the Department of Literature, Area Studies and European Languages, University of Oslo
2012–2014Graduate-Scholarship of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation
2006–2010Scholarship for gifted students of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation
2003  Award of the city of Trier for best achievements in a Contest for Ancient Languages "Certamen-Rheno-Palatinum


  • 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); ...

  • 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. ...

Press and Media

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