Motivation and emotion/Book/2022/Autonomous sensory meridian response and emotion

Autonomous sensory meridian response and emotion:
What emotions are involved in ASMR experiences and why do they occur?


Have you ever found yourself watching ASMR videos on TikTok or online and wondered why you are so drawn to them and how 2 hours have passed and you haven't got off the lounge? Have you ever wondered why you experience pleasurable sensations while watching a person bite into an apple or listen to a person whisper through your headphones that then triggers tingles down your spine?

This book chapter uncovers the physiological processes and emotions that occur when an individual experiences ASMR. Although the research into the psychological effects of ASMR is quite limited, in recent years there has been further research conducted that is explored in this chapter.

What is ASMR and what emotions are involved?Edit

Figure 1. Caption goes here
  • Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is a previously unstudied sensory phenomenon, [grammar?] in which individuals experience a tingling, static-like sensation across the scalp, back of the neck and at times further areas in response to specific triggering audio and visual stimuli. [1] ASMR is often stimulated by gentle sounds, light touch, and personal attention from someone with a caring disposition.
  • ASMR responses occur involuntary and it has been discovered that not all individuals can experience ASMR. A neuro-imaging study was conducted in 2016[2]which discovered that there is trait-level differences in resting-state brain activity between people who experience ASMR and those that do not. A study showed that people who experience ASMR had a reduced functional connectivity (the coactivation of brain regions over time) in a number of areas of the Default Mode Network (DMN).[2][Provide more detail]
  • Individuals who experience ASMR have reported that the main sensations/emotions that are experienced are senses of pleasure, relaxation and happiness.[factual?]
  • Individuals who are able to experience ASMR have reported they feel a sense of calmness, relaxation and a feeling of a positive emotional state[3], which in turn has helped with falling sleep and dealing with stress.[4]
  • Through research it has been discovered that the emotions that are experienced from ASMR are similar to those in other phenomena such musical frisson, synaesthesia and misophonia.[5]

Summary of Research Study:Edit

  • ASMR is quite a new topic when it comes to the psychological research. In saying that there has been some studies conducted. A research study was conducted in 2018 which looked at Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response as more than a feeling and looked at the physiological response on individuals. [6]
  • The table below gives a summary of the research study "More than a feeling: Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is characterized by reliable changes in affect and physiology"
Study Study One Study Two
Design A large-scale online experiment where participants watched a subset of three videos (two ASMR; one control)

and then reported their affective response and tingling sensations.

Study 2 examined the physiological parameters underlying the psychological state of ASMR.

Individuals were assessed on the phsyiolgical changes they exhibitied when watching ASMR videos compared to non-ASMR videos. Researchers observed the differences of how the individuals reacted to the videos and if they experienced aesthetic chills and other sensations.

Results All results were based on ASMR participants (compared to non-ASMR participants)
  • more frequent tingling
  • increased levels of excitement and calmness
  • decreased levels of stress and sadness.
  • The interaction between ASMR group and video type on tingle frequency was significant
  • There was a significant overall main effect of ASMR group on changes in affect from watching ASMR videos
  • There was a significant main effect of ASMR group on changes in heart rate
  • ASMR videos were associated with increased excitement and skin conductance levels (an indicator of physiological arousal

The study found that both studies—at both a self-report and physiological level—are line with the hypothesis that ASMR is a pleasant, calming but also activating experience. The study found that there is consistent evidence that ASMR produces tingling sensation, positive feelings of calmness, relaxation and excitement. It also shows proves that not all individuals can or have experienced ASMR in their life.

Below are some graphs showing the difference of emotions and feelings elicited throughout the study.

Why do these emotions occur?Edit

  • The feelings associated with ASMR are described as a tingling sensation beginning at the crown of the head which can spread down the neck and limbs. The tingling sensation comes in waves and is a “trance-like” immersive state accompanied by feelings of euphoria and relaxation.[7]
  • Studies have shown that the areas of the brain ASMR activates are associated with hormones like dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins, all of which can promote these feelings.[factual?]
  • It could also help explain why certain personality traits, particularly being open to new experiences, seem to increase the chances of someone experiencing ASMR.[factual?]
  • In a study, researchers performed fMRI brain scans of people while they were experiencing ASMR. Participants in the study showed activity throughout their brain, called whole brain activation, during periods of ASMR tingling. There was also significant activity in the area of the brain associated with self-awareness, social understanding, and social behaviours, including grooming behaviours in non-human primates. Because the effects of ASMR are similar to the effects of social grooming in primates, the researchers theorized that it might be a grooming response that remained after evolution.[8][Provide more detail]

Positives and Negatives of ASMREdit

[Provide more detail]


  • There has been a spike in research of this phenomenon with positive discoveries [grammar?] been made in hope of seeing ASMR therapy helping with disorders such as anxiety and depression.[9]
  • With ASMR being more well known in this day an age[awkward expression?], people who experienced these feelings when they were younger and didn't know why, have been given the opportunity to be educated on the feelings and emotions that ASMR can exhibit.
  • There has been a boom in social media with people creating ASMR videos and have found great success in creating this content. [for example?]


  • People who don’t experience ASMR have reported that the videos make them feel creeped out, unsettled, confused, or bored.[factual?]
  • In some cases people who do experience ASMR, certain sounds or visual triggers may not have the intended effect and can cause other issues.[factual?][for example?]
  • Though there has been new information about ASMR discovered there is still a lack of knowledge of the psychological reasons behind ASMR and further studies need to be implemented.


The research behind Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response is still very limited but there is a lot of insight and room for improvement in how ASMR could be utilised in the future[vague]. Researchers have been busy to bring more knowledge and education into the physiological reasons behind ASMR and why it produces the feelings and sensations that it does[awkward expression?]. This chapter shows a snapshot of what has been discovered and gives scientific evidence of ASMR and the emotions related to it.

Further research into this phenomenon will help with fully understanding why and how ASMR causes the physiological responses that it does and I am excited to see what new knowledge is discovered in the future.[vague]

See alsoEdit


  1. Barratt, Emma L.; Davis, Nick J. (2015-03-26). "Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR): a flow-like mental state". PeerJ 3: e851. doi:10.7717/peerj.851. ISSN 2167-8359. PMID 25834771. PMC 4380153. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Smith, Stephen D.; Katherine Fredborg, Beverley; Kornelsen, Jennifer (2017-08). "An examination of the default mode network in individuals with autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR)". Social Neuroscience 12 (4): 361–365. doi:10.1080/17470919.2016.1188851. ISSN 1747-0927. PMID 27196787. 
  3. Fredborg, Beverley K.; Clark, James M.; Smith, Stephen D. (2018-08-07). "Mindfulness and autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR)". PeerJ 6: e5414. doi:10.7717/peerj.5414. ISSN 2167-8359. 
  4. Lochte, Bryson C.; Guillory, Sean A; Richard, Craig A. H.; Kelley, William M. (2018-09-23). "An fMRI investigation of the neural correlates underlying the autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR)". BioImpacts 8 (4): 295–304. doi:10.15171/bi.2018.32. ISSN 2228-5660. PMID 30397584. PMC PMC6209833. 
  5. Barratt, Emma L.; Spence, Charles; Davis, Nick J. (2017-10-06). "Sensory determinants of the autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR): understanding the triggers". PeerJ 5: e3846. doi:10.7717/peerj.3846. ISSN 2167-8359. 
  6. Poerio, Giulia Lara; Blakey, Emma; Hostler, Thomas J.; Veltri, Theresa (2018-06-20). "More than a feeling: Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is characterized by reliable changes in affect and physiology". PLoS ONE 13 (6): e0196645. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0196645. ISSN 1932-6203. PMID 29924796. PMC 6010208. 
  7. Poerio, Giulia. "ASMR: what we know so far about this unique brain phenomenon – and what we don't". The Conversation. Retrieved 2022-08-28.
  8. "Origin Theory of ASMR". ASMR University. 2014-07-29. Retrieved 2022-10-24.
  9. "Fans of ASMR videos are more sensitive to their surroundings, study finds". ScienceDaily. Retrieved 2022-10-24.

External linksEdit