The importance of consent in ASMR videos and live sessions

Abby Lee Hood is a Nashville-based freelance writer who recently wrote a terrific article for MTV news titled, “ASMR IS NORMALIZING CONSENT, ONE WHISPER AT A TIME.”

Her article highlights how consent not only applies to romantic and non-romantic relationships, but also to ASMR.   Consent is an important part of ASMR role-play videos and real world ASMR sessions because feeling safe and at ease is probably critical to the relaxing feeling of ASMR.

Abby Lee cites data in the article about consent and ASMR which was collected by MTV from over 100 participants.  She has shared the data with me and given me permission to share it here.  Most of the responses focus on ASMR videos, but the incorporation of consent would also be very relevant to live or person-to-person ASMR sessions.

Below are the data from the MTV survey, followed by links to her article and her website.

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Participate in a research study about ASMR experiences

Thomas Swart is a postgraduate student, pursuing his PhD in Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK.

His research thesis is investigating the neurotransmitters, brain regions, and neural mechanisms that drive ASMR. In order to do this he aims to initially validate the presence of ASMR in individuals via an online questionnaire rather than solely relying on self-reported measures.

His thesis is titled: “Explaining Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response”, and his faculty advisor for the study is Dr. Michael Banissy, Professor of Psychology and Co-Head of Department at Goldsmiths University.  Dr Banissy has co-authored two prior published studies about ASMR.

Thomas is looking for participants to take his online survey, which has been reviewed and approved by an Ethics Committee.  The survey is open to everyone who is 18 or older, regardless if you do or don’t experience ASMR.  The survey is fully anonymous (GDPR-compliant), will take 30-40 minutes to complete, and the results will only be used for academic purposes.

The survey will remain open until sufficient responses enable a further revision of the questionnaire to more accurately validate the presence of ASMR in an individual.

Below is a link to the survey and more info.

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Participate in a research study about watching ASMR videos

Anthony El-Chaar is a graduate student, pursuing an M.A. in media studies at Notre Dame University in Lebanon.

His research thesis is investigating the experiences and motivations of watching ASMR videos. The thesis is titled: “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response: What is the Phenomenon Behind the Tingling Sensation?”  His faculty advisor for the study is Dr. Jessica El-Khoury, Assistant Professor at Notre Dame University.

Anthony is looking for participants to take his online survey. The survey is open to individuals who watch ASMR videos. The survey is fully anonymous and the results will only be used for academic purposes. The survey will take 10 minutes maximum to complete.

The survey will remain open until 300 participants have participated.

Below is a link to the survey and more info.

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Undergraduate student completes research study on ASMR and student studying

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityPa Chee Yang is an undergraduate student  majoring in Applied Social Science with a concentration in Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

She decided to investigate some associations between ASMR and student studying for his Applied Social Science Capstone research project.  Her advisor was Dr Zach Raff and her Capstone project was titled, “How ASMR affects student study.”

Pa Chee recruited 98 local students for her study and inquired about ASMR experiences, GPA, introversion, caffeine use, sleep difficulties, stress levels, and music habits.

In my interview with Pa Chee she explains her inspiration, goals, methods, and the results of her study.   She also provides tips for other students researching ASMR.

Below are my questions in bold, her replies in italics, and links to her complete Capstone project, as well as, a presentation file summarizing her project.

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Participate in a research study about ASMR and mindfulness

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityEleanor Osborne-Ford is an undergraduate student, majoring in psychology, and pursuing her BSc Degree at Bath Spa University in the UK.

Her dissertation is investigating the relationship of ASMR and mindfulness and is titled, “Investigation into traits of absorption, mindfulness and state of flow in individuals who experience ASMR and controls.”  Dr Agnieszka Janik McErlean, an established ASMR researcher, is her mentor for this study (see HERE for publications).

Eleanor is looking for individuals to take her online survey.  The survey is open to individuals who do or do not experience ASMR, and who are aged 18 and over up to 35 years old.  The survey is anonymous and should take about 20 minutes maximum.

The survey will remain open until 200 individuals have participated.

Below is a link to the online survey and more info.

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First published study to show brain activity during ASMR

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityI’m happy to share that I am one of the co-authors of the first published study to show brain activity during ASMR.

The study is titled, “An fMRI investigation of the neural correlates underlying the ASMR” and was published by Bryson Lochte, Sean Guillory, Craig Richard, and William Kelley in the journal BioImpacts on September 23, 2018.

One of the biggest questions about ASMR is, “What is happening in the brain?”  Although this study doesn’t fully answer that question, it is the first data to provide some direct insights.

Participants quietly layed down in fMRI machines, watched ASMR videos, and  their brains were scanned during moments of brain tingling – and then those brain images were compared to moments without brain tingling.

The brain regions that were strongly activated during ASMR were similar to those regions activated when humans, and other animals, perform soothing social behaviors – known as affiliative behaviors.  Typical examples of affiliative behaviors include calmly sitting close to each other, touching each other gently, and mutual grooming.

So how exactly was this study done?

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Graduate student completes research study about the role of ASMR in the service industry

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian ResponseI posted a prior article titled, “Participate in a research study about the role of ASMR in the service industry.

Good news, the research study is completed and some results are now available.

The researcher was Vladimir Fedoseev, a graduate student pursuing his MBA at the Varna University of Management in Varna, Bulgaria (a partner university of Cardiff Metropolitan University in Wales).

His dissertation focused on the involvement of ASMR in the service industry and is titled, “Effect of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) on Service User Experience”

He investigated how ASMR triggers, like soft speech, gentle sounds, careful hand movements, light touch, personal attention, and kind personalities, might effect experiences with hairdressers, doctors, hotel clerks, and others in the service industry.

In this second interview with Vladimir he reviews the details of his methods and shares some results of his research project.

One curious observation I noticed in his results is that gentle sounds, soft speech, and personal attention were the top triggers perceived by participants to cause ASMR in services, but the services with increasing reliance of light touch (like a hairdresser) showed increasing likelihood of stimulating ASMR.  This could imply that light touch is a stronger contributor in service-mediated ASMR than the participants realized.

Below are my questions in bold, his replies in italics, and links to learn more about his research project.

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Undergraduate student investigates psychoacoustics of ASMR trigger sounds

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityAnders Köhler recently graduated from the University of Skövde in Sweden with a Degree of Bachelor of Arts and majored in Media Arts, Aesthetics, and Narration (Game Development – Sound).

His examination project investigated the psychoacoustic properties of ASMR sounds and was titled, “A study of scratching sounds within ASMR in a neutral sound environment.”

Anders’ goal was to try to find  patterns and properties in ASMR trigger sounds.  This is a terrific quest.  What is special about crinkling, tapping, whispering, and scratching sounds that make them so blissful and delightful to ASMR enthusiasts?

He focused his project on scratching sounds and utilized state-of-the-art tools and methods to dissect the sound profiles.

In my interview with Anders he explains his goals, research design, and shares a table of his data with a full explanation of what he discovered in his project.

Below are my questions in bold, his replies in italics, and links to his study, a video summary, and his Facebook page.

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Published research study examines how expectations can affect ASMR

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityDaniella Cash, Laura Heisick, and Megan Papesh from Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College in Baton Rouge, LA have published a research study about expectations and ASMR.

The study is titled aptly, “Expectancy effects in the ASMR” and was published August 22, 2018 in the journal PeerJ.  Links to this paper and a follow up commentary paper are at the end of this article.

I’m often asked why only some individuals experience ASMR.  The answer is that no one knows.  Yet.  The easiest answer could be that the response is dependent on a specific gene sequence – you either have it or you don’t.

But life is never that simple.

It is believed that experiencing ASMR is more likely to occur while being in a relaxing setting, having a calm mind, selecting a preferred trigger type and style, and even perhaps not being on specific drugs or medications which could interfere with ASMR.

What about the influence of life experiences, culture, or expectations?   Particularly expectations.  Expectations could be a part of the magic behind the placebo effect.

Could the placebo effect explain ASMR?  Or what about vice versa?  Maybe ASMR could explain the placebo affect in specific cases?

Visualize a clinician handing you a pill – that is a moment filled with personal attention, caring behaviors, a soft voice, and probably the light touch of their hand on yours, as well as, a reassuring hand on your back as you walk out of their office.

How about meeting with a therapist on a regular basis?  A weekly dose of hyper-focused personal attention from a trained expert with a soft and steady voice – that is an ASMR recipe.  If therapy sessions help you feel calmer, then is it the wisdom, the insights, the ASMR, or all of that which bring you serenity?

In this study, the authors investigated if expectations can affect ASMR – an important question indeed.

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Published research study about mindfulness and ASMR

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityBeverley Fredborg, James Clark, and Stephen Smith have published another ASMR research study titled, “Mindfulness and ASMR.”  The study was published August 7, 2018 in PeerJ.

The goal of this study was to investigate the potential relationships between ASMR and mindfulness.

In their introduction, they provide these descriptions of mindfulness:

  • “…a two-component process by which one engages in both intentional self-regulation of attention and a nonjudgmental awareness and acceptance of the present moment.”
  • “…involves an openness to sensations, attentional control, emotional regulation, and resilience.”

The authors then highlight the similarities between mindfulness and ASMR:

  • “…the focused attention method of mindfulness meditation requires individuals to focus on a specific external stimulus or internal thought…During ASMR experiences, individuals focus attention on an external stimulus that triggers tingling sensations.”
  • “Both mindfulness and ASMR can lead to a feeling of relaxation that enhances people’s subjective well-being.”

These similarities definitely make one wonder if mindfulness is a form of ASMR, if ASMR is a form of mindfulness, or is there some other relationship?

The authors also teased out more data about ASMR and trigger preferences, age of onset, similarity to music chills, and frequency of using ASMR media to help with relaxation and sleeping.

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