This is Part 4, and the conclusion, of my blog post series on the first peer-reviewed paper about ASMR.
As a refresher, the paper is titled, “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR): a flow-like mental state”. It was published on March 26th, 2015 in the journal PeerJ.
This post is an interview with the authors of the paper, Emma Barratt and Nick Davis.
Dr. Nick Davis has his PhD in Psychology from the University of Birmingham (UK) and is currently working in the Department of Psychology at Swansea University (UK) as a Lecturer in Psychology.
Ms Emma Barratt is the lead author of the paper and has her MSc in Abnormal and Clinical Psychology from Swansea University (Wales).
The authors share their inspirations for beginning the research, challenges with writing the paper, and Ms. Barratt finds out a shocking fact about her co-author.
Below are my questions in bold, followed by their replies in italics.
Congratulations, how does it feel to be the first researchers to publish a peer-reviewed paper about ASMR?
Dr. Davis: “It is nice to know that we were first past the post, but I don’t think ours is the definitive publication. We wanted to characterize the experience so we could understand it better, and to relate ASMR to psychological states that we knew a little more about. There are other people working in the field, and I’m sure there is some great work to come in the future.”
Ms. Barratt: “I agree. While our paper did the dirty work in defining some common features of ASMR in scientific literature, the really interesting stuff of what causes ASMR and why is still on the horizon.”
Do you experience ASMR?
Dr. Davis: “I do, but never from videos. I experience the same sensations when people pay close attention to me, such as when I have my hair cut.”
Ms. Barratt: “The truth comes out, Nick! You never told me that! I think I may have experienced it as a kid getting my hair cut, but I can’t say for sure. It’s not something that I’ve experienced since then.”
How did you initially become inspired to do a research project on ASMR?
Ms. Barratt: “Nick and I had initially been looking to do a project on synaesthesia, which is something I’m quite interested in. The idea of looking into ASMR came about when one of my housemates, knowing that I was into synaesthesia, asked me if I had heard of it and if they were the same thing. Not knowing, I looked it up online and found a huge community, but no peer reviewed studies. From there it seemed natural that I suggest getting the ball rolling.”
How would you describe the process of creating the research project and the process of collecting the data? Anything unexpected or interesting occur?
Ms. Barratt: “The most unexpected thing for me was how enthusiastic people were about participating. The 500 or so responses we were given came within just a few days, which is an amazing rate.”
What challenges did you encounter during the data analysis, paper writing, and paper submission process?
Ms. Barratt: “I don’t recall any specific challenges relating to the logistics of it, in honestly. Both the ASMR community and our publisher (PeerJ) made things very easy on that front. I think the most difficult thing for me when working with the data was, as someone who doesn’t experience ASMR, representing it accurately and doing justice to all the contributions we had from participants. Using qualitative and self-reported data in the way we did allowed us a roundness to our exploration that we wouldn’t have gotten with physiological data alone, which at this stage I think did better justice to the phenomenon as a whole.”
What reactions are you getting to your paper?
Dr. Davis: “I have been really flattered by the interest in this work. I had not appreciated what a large community there is around ASMR, and the paper seems to have generated quite a lot of discussion. You can check how many people have viewed the paper on the PeerJ site.”
Ms. Barratt: “Likewise, the interest we’ve had has been really something. I’ve seen mixed reactions in a few places I frequent, but I think even those come from the same place as we do – wanting to progress towards an explanation for ASMR.”
Do you work or interact with other scientists who know about ASMR?
Dr. Davis: “We have interactions with colleagues in Sheffield University who are interested in ASMR. We were very pleased that Dr Tom Stafford from Sheffield was one of the two peer-reviewers of our paper.”
Will you continue to do research related to ASMR?
Dr. Davis: “Absolutely!”
Ms. Barratt: “I’d like to!”
What advice would you give to other researchers interested in ASMR?
Dr. Davis: “Please do! This is a huge field, and it needs some smart research to get to the core of how the ASMR experience is created in, and affects, the brain. I hope that future research is made accessible to the ASMR community (for example, by publishing in open-access journals like PeerJ). We have benefited hugely from non-academic people reading and responding to our work.”
This interview occurred before it was known how their paper would directly help the ASMR artist SensorAdi (see the blog post titled, “ASMR research publication helps ASMR artist to keep his YouTube channel”).
I have recently communicated with the authors about the situation with SensorAdi. Emma Barratt shared, “It was heartwarming to hear that our work could help. Not something I imagined happening, but it definitely gave me a different perspective on the value of research.”
Learn more about the authors:
Click the links below to learn more about this historical paper:
- Part 1: Summary of the data.
- Part 2: Significance of the paper.
- Part 3: Meaning of the data & next steps.
- (Part 4: this article).
- 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.
6 thoughts on “Part 4: The first peer-reviewed publication about ASMR: Interview with the authors”
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I just heard the Radio 4 Programme, ‘Brain Tingles’ (24 Dec). It’s the first I’d ever *heard* of this, but it’s something I’ve experienced often throughout my life (I’m 65 now). I just didn’t know it was a ‘thing’. I’d never tried to induce it – it just happened sometimes, seemingly randomly, and was always welcome but mysterious when it occurred. But I’ve just now been exploring some of the videos online – amazing! Towel-folding and present-wrapping!