Part 1: The first peer-reviewed publication about ASMR: Summary of the data

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityThe first peer-reviewed paper about ASMR has been published in the journal PeerJ.

I am highly excited about this event and very proud of the authors of this paper.

The paper is titled, “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR): a flow-like mental state” and is authored by Emma Barratt and Nick Davis. The authors are members of the Department of Psychology at Swansea University in the United Kingdom.

The publication was officially published as a peer-reviewed publication on March 26, 2015, but was initially published as a “PrePrint” on December 18, 2014.

The study was reviewed and approved by the Swansea University Department of Psychology Ethics Committee prior to the initiation of data collection.

This is such an important achievement that I will cover this event in several blog posts. This first post will simply focus on summarizing the data in the publication.

The data in the publication was collected from an online survey which was completed by 475 research participants.

All participants reported experiencing ASMR as explained in the paper, “Participants were asked to verify that they identified as able to experience ASMR and the tingling sensations commonly associated with ASMR.”

The participants in the study consisted of a similar number of males and females, and were aged from 18 to 54 years (average age was 25 years).  They resided throughout the world, with the strongest representation from the U.S.A and Western Europe.

Below is a summary of the data from the paper.

Why did the participants watch ASMR videos?

• 98% “to relax”
• 82% “to help me sleep”
• 70% “to deal with stress”
• 5% “for sexual stimulation”

Which items triggered tingling sensations for the participants when viewing ASMR videos?

• 75% “whispering”
• 69% “personal attention”
• 64% “crisp sounds”
• 53% “slow movements”
• 36% “repetitive movements”
• 13% “smiling”
• 3% “aeroplane noise”
• 2% “vacuum cleaner noise”
• 2% “laughing”

What time of the day did the participants watch ASMR videos? (could select more than one option)

• 81% “before sleeping”
• 30% “whenever I have spare time”
• 4% “upon waking”
• 2% “mid-morning”
• 2% “mid-day”
• Data not given for responses to “afternoon”, “evening”

Did participants require specific conditions to achieve ASMR?

• 52% “yes”
• 48% “no”
• Open comments: a requirement for quiet and relaxed conditions was most common comment

At what age did participants first experience “this tingling sensation”?

• 14% At 5 years
• 51% Between 5-10 years
• 9% After 18 years
• Data not given for 10-18 years but ~26% could be inferred to total up to 100%

Did the tingling sensation originate in one area of the participant’s bodies?

• 63% “yes” (41% head, 29% shoulders)
• 27% “no”

Did any medications affect the experience of tingling at all?

• 112 participants reported using a medication, of these participants:
~92% (103) were unsure of any effect on ASMR
~5% (6) reported no effect on ASMR
~3% (3) reported decreased ASMR due to: “an antidepressant”, “sleeping pills”, and “clonazepam”

Did the participants feel that watching ASMR videos had an effect on their mood?

• 80% “yes” (Graph of mood scores shows average effect on mood was positive)
• 6% “no”
• 14% did not select a response
• Data analysis:Those scoring as high risk for depression demonstrated a large improvement to mood than those scoring as non-depressed.  High risk for depression was correlated to faster decrease of effect of ASMR on mood

When asked about mood and tingles experienced:

• 50% reported a change in mood regardless of tingles experienced
• 30% reported a change in mood only when tingles experienced

Did the participants suffer from any chronic pain or illness?

• 19% (91) “yes”, of these participants:
~44% (40) feel that watching ASMR videos did not have an effect on their symptoms
~42% (38) feel that watching ASMR videos did have an effect on their symptoms
~14% (13) did not specify
• Data analysis: Chronic illness/pain was reported to be different between the time before ASMR and during ASMR, but was not different between the time during ASMR and after ASMR.

Did the participants have any family members that experience ASMR?

• 80% “unsure/I’ve never asked”
• 12% “no”
• 8% “yes”

Did the participants have any type of synaesthesia?

• 7.4% (35) “yes”, of these participants:
~83% (29) were assessed to be genuine by follow up interviews
• Data analysis: prevalence of synaesthesia in those who experience ASMR is slightly higher but not significantly higher than prevalence of synaesthesia in the general population.

Click the links below to learn more about this historical paper:

  • (Part 1: this article).
  • Part 2: Significance of the paper.
  • Part 3: Meaning of the data & next steps.
  • Part 4: Interview with the authors.
  • Podcast episode: Audio summary.
  • Publication: Access their published research study.

Click the links below to learn more about ASMR research:

  • Tips: How to be an ASMR researcher.
  • Insight: Interviews with ASMR researchers.
  • Browse: ASMR research and publications.

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This post brought to you by ASMR University.  A site with the mission of increasing the awareness, understanding, and research of the Art and Science of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.

10 thoughts on “Part 1: The first peer-reviewed publication about ASMR: Summary of the data

  1. Pingback: Part 3: The first peer-reviewed publication about ASMR: Meaning of the data & next steps. | ASMR University

  2. Pingback: Part 2: The first peer-reviewed publication about ASMR: Significance of the paper | ASMR University

  3. Pingback: Science of ASMR: The first peer-reviewed research publication (podcast episode #10) | ASMR University

  4. Pingback: Authors use fMRI to publish first biological study about ASMR-sensitive individuals | ASMR University

  5. Pingback: How long until ASMR is a proven therapy for insomnia, anxiety, or depression? | ASMR University

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