Fans of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) videos are more likely to be sensitive to their surroundings and feelings, a new study from the University of Essex has revealed.
ASMR has taken over the internet with millions watching viral clips of whispered voices, delicate hand movements, or tapping. Mysteriously only some people feel this relaxing tingling sensation that spreads down the spine.
Dr. Giulia Poerio, from the Department of Psychology, has discovered that those who feel it are hypersensitive to the world around them. The research was published in The Journal of Research in Personality.
More than 500 participants were recruited for the study and assessed for ASMR experience and measured for sensory sensitivity which uncovered that ASMR addicts are more bothered by noise and movement and are easily overstimulated. They are also more attuned to their bodily sensations such as noticing physical changes when experiencing emotions.
“It is a double-edged sword. Highly sensitive people may be able to experience intensely pleasurable feelings like ASMR but this high sensitivity also has downsides. For example, the noise of a pen clicking or someone chewing gum could set off a negative reaction, which others would simply ignore.”
Dr. Poerio now hopes to build on the findings with a view to explain how and why intensely positive emotions are experienced, which may lead to new therapeutic techniques.
“We know much less about positive emotions compared to negative ones, especially when considering complex emotional experiences like ASMR. I’m interested in trying to understand these under-researched emotions so that we might find ways of enhancing them in people’s everyday lives,” added Dr. Poerio.