Why ASMR videos could have hidden mental health benefits

The autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR, is an intensely pleasant tingling sensation that originates in the scalp and neck and spreads throughout the body. ASMR is triggered by various video and audio triggerssuch as watching someone simulate relaxing actions like massaging or brushing hair or listening to soft sounds like whispering or tapping. There are countless ASMR videos on YouTube that attract thousands, or in some cases millions, of subscribers and views.

Triggers vary from person to person. But for millions of people around the world, ASMR is an option to relax, sleep and reduce stress.

While research interest in the phenomenon is growing, there’s still a lot we don’t know about ASMR. For example, why do some people experience tingling and others do not? Could an understanding of the personality traits associated with ASMR guide us in thinking about ASMR as a possible therapeutic intervention?

Emerging literature suggests that people who are capable of experiencing ASMR exhibit higher levels of neuroticism. Neuroticism is a personality trait typically defined as a tendency toward depression, self-doubt, and other negative feelings.

Neuroticism is also associated with a tendency to experience negative emotional states. like anxiety. We know that people who watch ASMR regularly may do so to relax or reduce stress, which could indicate elevated levels of anxiety.

Currently, there is very little research linking neuroticism to anxiety in people experiencing ASMR or on the effect of watching ASMR videos on anxiety. Our new study aims to increase the evidence in these areas.

How ASMR is related to anxiety

We recruited 36 people who experience ASMR and 28 people who don’t. All participants watched a five-minute ASMR video that was a compilation of multiple common ASMR triggers.

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Before viewing the video, the participants completed questionnaires to assess their levels of neuroticism, trait anxiety (a predisposition to experience ongoing anxiety), and state anxiety (their anxiety levels at the time). They also answered questions about their state of anxiety after watching the video.

Those who experienced ASMR had significantly higher scores for neuroticism and trait anxiety compared to those who did not, suggesting that these are characteristics associated with the ability to experience ASMR. ASMR experimenters also had higher anxiety scores before the video, which dropped significantly after watching the video.

In contrast, there was no difference in state anxiety scores between people who did not experience ASMR before and after watching the video. So, ASMR video relieved anxiety, but only among ASMR experimenters.

However, when we looked at the data differently, we found that a propensity for higher neuroticism and anxiety in general, regardless of whether the participants experienced ASMR or not, was associated with the ASMR video having a positive effect on anxiety levels. .

This emphasizes the importance of individual personality traits when considering ASMR as a possible therapeutic intervention. It also shows us that the benefits of watching ASMR videos can be experienced even if you don’t necessarily feel the “tingles.”

Can ASMR reduce anxiety?

We have provided new evidence regarding traits that may characterize people who experience ASMR and indicate that ASMR might have potential as an alternative treatment for anxiety.

Our study supports previous research showing that ASMR experimenters exhibit higher levels of neuroticism. We also found that people with elevated levels of anxiety are more likely to experience ASMR.

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Notably, in our study, watching the ASMR video reduced anxiety among people experiencing ASMR. While this seems logical considering that people who seek ASMR often do so for therapeutic reasons, the results of our study also suggest that ASMR may have anxiety-reducing effects in general.

So if people are prone to neuroticism and/or anxiety, they may benefit from watching ASMR, even if they don’t routinely watch ASMR videos or experience ASMR tingles.

Our study was only on a relatively small number of people, and we cannot rule out that the target group probably had a predisposition to seek ASMR. It will be important to conduct research with more participants without ASMR experience.

Certainly, more research on ASMR as a psychological intervention will be important to better understand how this can help people experiencing anxiety.

Meanwhile, the findings of recent neuroimaging studies shed more light on this phenomenon. Using a type of brain imaging called electroencephalography, researchers have shown that the electrical activity associated with relaxation (including mindfulness meditation) increased in response to ASMR stimuli. This was true even when the participants were performing a mentally demanding task.

These studies suggest that ASMR leads to changes in brain activity typically associated with a relaxed state, possibly even during everyday activities. Further neuroimaging research will complement behavioral studies and help us identify mechanisms that might underpin ASMR’s anxiety-reducing capabilities.

This article was originally published on The conversation by Joanna Greer at Northumbria University, Newcastle. Read the original article here.

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