Alfa Ramirez is pursuing her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Digital Cinema Arts at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, USA.
She was assigned a class project in her Psychological Testing course and she decided to focus her project on ASMR.
After obtaining IRB approval and a faculty research supervisor, she forged ahead and has already finished collecting and analyzing her data.
In my interview with Alfa, she shares her inspiration and goals for the project, a summary of her research results, the topic of her next ASMR research project, and tips for others whom are considering doing ASMR research.
Below are my questions in bold, her replies in italics, and a link to learn more about her.
What inspired you to do a research project about ASMR?
Alfa, “I was already in the ASMR community and I wondered whether other people felt the same tingle sensation and relaxation feelings as I did. I began with a literature review, which I found little of, and based my project mostly off one study to gain some base results, so I could jump off of my own study and dig deeper.”
Had your supervising faculty member heard about ASMR before you stared your project?
Alfa, “No, in fact no one in the whole department whether faculty or students have ever heard about ASMR before I began my project, there was a lot of explaining to do and I had to come up with an accurate definition about ASMR.”
What were the goals of your project?
Alfa, “My main goal was to get some preliminary data on who experiences the tingle and relaxation feelings.
I had four hypotheses:
1) people with high immersion, measured by a flow state scale, would feel more relaxed,
2) people with high immersion, measured by a flow state scale, would feel more tingle experiences,
3) people with better sleeping habits, will feel more immersed in ASMR, and
4) people with more negative feelings, measured by a depression/anxiety scale would feel more relaxed.
I also asked preliminary questions to the ASMR community about what their favorite triggers were and where they usually watched ASMR for future studies.”
What methods did you use and how was your response rate?
Alfa, “I used an online qualtrics survey to help me collect responses to prove or disprove my hypotheses. I posted my anonymous survey link on facebook and the ASMR community of Reddit.
I got about 100 respondents each time I posted, 419 respondents in total, 184 Men (44%), 79 Women (18.85%), 147 Unanswered (35.08%), 2 people who identified as trans masculine, 1 person in each gender category of: agender, bigender, demigirl, genderfluid, M/F, nonbinary, unsure. Their age ranged from 14-90: an average of ~23 years old.”
What challenges have you had with the development of your project and the collection of data?
Alfa, “Some challenges were the disproportionate amount of men to women, usually with surveys we want as many people as we want, and we want almost the same amount of men to women for accurate representation of our population.
Another challenge was the gender question, as this is a hot topic and a lot of people didn’t like how open ended I left the question to be.
The last challenge was that there was that most people didn’t answer all my survey question, and I don’t blame them because it was a flaw of my own. My survey was a bit too long and the most important question was left last, when I should have made it shorter and made the most important question first.
So, there are a few flaws in my study, but all studies have challenges and flaws.”
What were the results of the study?
Alfa, “Here are the results for each of my hypotheses,
1) people who report high immersion will report greater relaxation, was supported. As 101 people (24.1%) reported high immersion, and 58 (57.42%) of those people reported feelings of relaxation.
2) people who report high immersion will report more tingle experiences than those who are not as immersed, was not supported. As 101 people experienced immersion (24.1%), 101 people did not experience any tingle experience (100%).
3) people with better sleeping habits will report being more immersed than those with bad sleeping habits, was not supported. 345 people (82.33%) reported good sleeping habits and out of those people only 101 (29.27%) of them reported high immersion.
4) people with more negative feelings will report being more relaxed than those who do not have these symptoms. This was supported with 269 people (64.2 %) reporting negative feelings, 185 (68.77%) of those people reported feelings of relaxation.
Among these results of my hypotheses I had more interesting results; I had a section at the beginning of my survey that asked if the person watched ASMR before, if a person answered yes they would go to preliminary ASMR questions, if they answered no they would be redirected to my main survey.
In the preliminary questions people were asked how frequently they watched ASMR, 116 people said every day, 81 people said five to six times a week, 89 people said three to four times a week, and 51 people said once or twice a week.
Additionally, I asked how people usually listened to ASMR, 100% of people said alone. Then I asked why people listen to ASMR, the top three responses were “relaxation”, “tingle”, “sleep”.
The last interesting result was when I asked everyone who took the survey if they felt a tingle experience, 176 people said yes, and when they said yes they were prompted to click where they felt a tingle experience on their body using a body heat map in my survey. The most clicked regions were the back of the head down to the spine.
I’m thinking about writing up and possibly publishing my results, but I’m not completely sure yet.”
If you were to do another research project about ASMR what would you focus on?
Alfa, “I am doing more research in ASMR next semester, I’ll be making one proposal and another complete research project with IRB approval. The proposal will focus on cross cultural differences between triggers and feelings of relaxation, as this was a demographic I didn’t ask about in my survey and it would be interesting to see if there was a culture difference.
The full research project to come will be the variation between trigger choice and feelings of relaxation. There will be a variety of triggers and people must respond to a series of body heat maps. Both ideas are still developing.
For even more future research I still haven’t dabbled in there is the general question of who feels the tingle responses?, and does the way people watch ASMR affect their relaxation. There is still more work to be done with fMRI’s and other brain scans and the world of ASMR.”
What tips, advice, and/or encouragement would you give to others whom are considering doing an ASMR research project?
Alfa, “I would say to look at other studies and what they have done, and don’t be intimidated because there is so little information out there. It should be even more exciting since there is little to no data, because this is a relatively new and interesting field there is the possibility to consider any observation with ASMR. Most importantly have fun!”
Learn more about Alfa: LinkedIn
Starting steps for how to be an ASMR researcher.
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