PhD candidate shares pilot data about ASMR, anxiety, and pain

Josephine Flockton is a recent graduate from the University of York, England, with a master’s degree in neuroscience and neuroimaging.  She is now pursuing her PhD in cognitive neuroscience.

Her PhD research thesis aims to be the first to explore what happens in the brain during an ASMR experience using the neuroimaging technique of magnetoencephalography (MEG), to further the understanding of ASMR and pain circuits in the brain.

In August, 2020 she launched a pilot survey to support the rationale of her PhD research which will begin October, 2021.  The pilot survey collected data regarding ASMR trigger preferences, frequency of use, and its potential impact on the daily lives of those who experience it, as well as on their anxiety and pain levels.

The pilot survey was granted ethical approval from The University of York Ethics Committee, was created using Qualtrics, and was posted on ASMRUniversity.com and Reddit.com (via a subreddit category for people who enjoy taking surveys and experience ASMR).

Josephine has graciously shared the results from her pilot survey.  Below are the number of respondents, the survey questions, and the survey responses.

Total participants: 157

Percentages have been rounded to whole numbers.

What is your age?

Average age: 32 years

Range: 18 to 99 years

How often do you watch videos to experience ASMR?

• Never (18%)

• Once or twice a month (14%)

• Several times a month (15%)

• Once or twice a week (10%)

• Several times a week (26%) [most frequent response]

• More than once a day (10%)

• Other, please specify below: (6%)

Do you have any preferences for specific ASMR triggers? Please tick any that may apply:

• Whispering (57%) [most frequent response]

• Tapping (44%)

• Visual triggers such as paper folding or writing (38%)

• Hair brushing (37%)

• Scratching (28%)

• Crunching with hands or mouth (13%)

• Other, please specify: (49%)

Word response analysis showed the following were the Top 10 words in “Other” responses, from most to least frequent:

      • Attention, Soft, Sound, Personal, Spoken, Hand, Paper, Brush, Movements, Massage

How does ASMR make you feel in terms of pleasantness and alertness?

Pleasant Scale: 0 (unpleasant) to 100 (most pleasant)

Mean response: 77.71 (majority felt a high level of pleasantness during ASMR)

Alert Scale: 0 (not alert) to 100 (most alert)

Mean response: 36.56 (majority felt a low level of alertness during ASMR)

Heat Map of Pleasant and Alert Scales:

heatmap

How does ASMR make you feel? Please be as descriptive as you’d like.  [free response response]

Word response analysis showed the following were the Top 10 words in the free responses, from most to least frequent:

    • Relax, Feel, Tingle, Calm, Make, ASMR, Sleepy, Help, Head, Sleep

Do you ever suffer from anxiety that significantly affects your every day life?

• Yes (64%) [most frequent response]

• No (33%)

• Prefer not to say (3%)

>>>If yes, do you find that ASMR alleviates your experience of anxiety?

• Yes (39%) [most frequent response]

• No (13%)

• Sometimes (36%)

• Not sure (12%)

>>>If yes, how long does this alleviation from anxiety last?

• Just during my ASMR experience (18%)

• For several minutes after my ASMR experience (32%) [most frequent response]

• For up to an hour after my ASMR experience (30%)

• For more than an hour after my ASMR experience (20%)

Do you suffer from chronic or recurring pain?

• No (66%) [most frequent response]

• Yes (34%)

If yes, please specify the condition if possible [free response]

Word response analysis showed the following were the Top 10 words in these free responses, from most to least frequent:

      • Arthritis, Pain, Back, Osteoarthritis, Fibromyalgia, Injury, Chronic, Migraine, Knee, Neck

>>>If yes, do you find that ASMR alleviates your experience of pain?

• Yes (29%) [most frequent response]

• No (27%)

• Sometimes (16%)

• Not sure (28%)

>>>If yes, how long does this alleviation from your pain last?

• Just during my ASMR experience (30%) [most frequent response]

• For several minutes after my ASMR experience (23%)

• For up to an hour after my ASMR experience (20%)

• For more than an hour after my ASMR experience (27%)

Tell us about your experience of ASMR and if it helps you in any way.  [free response]

Word response analysis showed the following were the Top 10 words in these free responses, from most to least frequent:

    • ASMR, Help, Relax, Sleep, Video, Feel, Anxiety, Watch, Asleep, Fall.

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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.

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