Motivation and emotion/Book/2020/Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response and emotion
What emotions are involved in ASMR experiences and why do they occur?
Overview[edit | edit source]
ASMR is a relatively new in terms of scientific exploration. What this chapter looks to break down is what emotions are involved in ASMR experiences and why do they occur . Specifically, we will be looking at why these experiences occur in terms of through the lens of psychological theories of emotion and their theorised origins .
Due to the relatively new state of the scientific research into ASMR, some of the ties to theories of emotion are hypothesised based on potentially viable links between proven features of the ASMR effect and the elements of various emotion theories.
The book chapter serves to be a hopeful compass pointing in the direction of where future research could go.
What is ASMR?[edit | edit source]
Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is described as an electric-like tingling sensation across the scalp, around the back of the neck and in various other places based on the 'triggering' audio and/or visual stimuli presented (Barratt & Davis, 2015). It is a relatively newly studied sensory phenomenon,that had its first proper scientific paper published in 2015. That being said it has a relatively large community that both creates and consumes media specifically designed to produce ASMR.
These ASMR producing videos are in a range of different styles, the most common being a roleplay-type video set in a personal POV perspective. These videos then feature, what is most commonly referred to as 'triggers' (sounds and actions designed to produce the ASMR effect) the most common trigger being the sound of nails tapping on various objects. These videos are most commonly used as a way to relieve stress, improve overall mood, and/or as a sleep aid at night. The reason be is the that the community who regularly consumes this content have self-reported experiencing feelings of happiness, relaxation, and an overall sense of calm (Lochte et al., 2018). The ASMR effect has been compared to musical frisson (musical chills) and other sense base phenomenon such as synaesthesia and misophonia (Barratt et al., 2017).
What emotions are elicited?[edit | edit source]
Relaxation[edit | edit source]
The most common use of ASMR media is as a tool to relax. So, for anyone remotely familiar with this topic it should be no surprise that relaxation is an emotion involved with ASMR. Now relaxation is a complex emotion as it involves the easing of ‘negative’ emotions such as stress (Tunney et al., 2017). The physiological elements that follow the sense of calm and peacefulness that comes with allowing yourself to feel relaxed, has vast positive benefits for you physical and emotional wellbeing (Tunney et al., 2017).
Happiness[edit | edit source]
Happiness is commonly associated with dopamine; however, our 'happy' hormones include oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin (Love, 2014). In one study of ASMR they explored an fMRI investigation and found that in the ASMR experience, the brain activated mPFC which has been shown to have oxytocin bind receptors in (Lochte et al., 2018). As the feelings experienced have all been self-reported, one other element of self-report is just an overall mood increase which could also be looked at as happiness (Barratt & Davis, 2015).
Quiz time[edit | edit source]
Choose the correct answers and click "Submit":
Why do these emotions occur?[edit | edit source]
Why do emotions occur, taking away the ASMR element for a minute, there are many different viewpoints that come into play to explain what causes emotion . These include biological, evolutionary, neuroscientific, psychophysical, cognitive, clinical, developmental, psychoanalytical, social, sociological, and cultural (Reeve, 2017).
James-Lang[edit | edit source]
The physiological theory of emotion presented by James-Lang, is one that I think applies nicely . As the ASMR effect has been reported to provide temporary self-reported improvements in symptoms of depression and chronic pain by those who engage in ASMR (Fredborg et al., 2018) .
- James-Lang theory of emotion - biology based/potencially explore the 'mirror effect' in ASMR media and apply this to the theory that the physiological reactions our body has to stimulation. As a possible reason for why this emotion occurs . A part of the brain that was observed triggered during experiencing ASMR also deals with oxytocin, which could explain the happiness felt .
Mindfulness and appraisal theory[edit | edit source]
There are links that have been made between mindfulness and ASMR. These links attempt to answer the question why do these aforenamed emotions occur, and to answer that question we also have to answer the question what causes the ASMR effect (Fredborg et al., 2018). Due to the relatively new state of the scientific research into ASMR, there is not a whole lot of concrete evidence as to what causes the effect in some people but not in others (Poerio et al., 2018). There is however enough evidence to validate the fact that the ASMR effect is in fact occurring and actually makes an impact on the body (Poerio et al., 2018).
A few things that we should look at, are the studied links between ASMR and mindfulness practice. As I believe the idea that mindfulness causes ASMR, can also lead into appraisal theory of emotion. As (even if subconsciously) developing a state of flow through unintentional mindfulness while engaging in ASMR would create a positive appraisal (Lochte et al., 2018). As the individual engaging with the ASMR media is actively participanting with the content and over time forming stronger positive appraisals as they continuously get the results they were after which is a sense relaxation and calm (Hayes et al., 2019; Reeve, 2017). Following the theory this would then trigger the physiological responses such as lowered heart rate, that are associated with the aforenamed emotions (Reeve, 2017).
Conclusion[edit | edit source]
The research into ASMR is still in its infancy and as such there is a lot of room for further exploration into what emotions accompany the experience of the ASMR effect. There is also a large gap in the research for why these emotions occur.
Overall, the emotions involved in ASMR are complex in nature and appear to be both founded in biological theories of emotion, and cognitive as well. As in part the emotions could be an offset from the natural physiological changes that occur when focusing. However, in saying that due to their complex nature it could be the individual’s appraisal .
Further research to be conducted.
See also[edit | edit source]
- ASMR (Wikipedia)
- Emotional chills (Book chapter, 2017)
- False physiological feedback and emotional appraisal (Book chapter, 2016)
References[edit | edit source]
Barratt, E., Spence, C., & Davis, N. (2017). Sensory determinants of the autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR): understanding the triggers. Peerj, 5. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.3846
Colver, M., & El-Alayli, A. (2015). Getting aesthetic chills from music: The connection between openness to experience and frisson. Psychology Of Music, 44(3), 413-427. https://doi.org/10.1177/0305735615572358
Fredborg, B., Clark, J., & Smith, S. (2018). Mindfulness and autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR). Peerj, 6, e5414. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.5414
Hayes, D., Moore, A., Stapley, E., Humphrey, N., Mansfield, R., & Santos, J. et al. (2019). Promoting mental health and wellbeing in schools: examining Mindfulness, Relaxation and Strategies for Safety and Wellbeing in English primary and secondary schools: study protocol for a multi-school, cluster randomised controlled trial (INSPIRE). Trials, 20(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-019-3762-0
Janik McErlean, A., & Banissy, M. (2018). Increased misophonia in self-reported Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. Peerj, 6, e5351. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.5351
Lochte, B., Guillory, S., Richard, C., & Kelley, W. (2018). An fMRI investigation of the neural correlates underlying the autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR). Bioimpacts, 8(4), 295-304. https://doi.org/10.15171/bi.2018.32
Love, T. (2014). Oxytocin, motivation and the role of dopamine. Pharmacology Biochemistry And Behavior, 119, 49-60. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pbb.2013.06.011
Poerio, G., Blakey, E., Hostler, T., & Veltri, T. (2018). More than a feeling: Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is characterized by reliable changes in affect and physiology. PLOS ONE, 13(6), e0196645. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0196645
Reeve, J. (2017). Understanding motivation and emotion (7th ed.).
Taylor, S. (2017). Misophonia: A new mental disorder?. Medical Hypotheses, 103, 109-117. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mehy.2017.05.003
Tunney, C., Cooney, P., Coyle, D., & O'Reilly, G. (2017). Comparing young people's experience of technology-delivered v. face-to-face mindfulness and relaxation: Two-armed qualitative focus group study. British Journal Of Psychiatry, 210(4), 284-289. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.bp.115.172783
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