September 17, 2021
It’s been around for a while, but it seems like in the last year or so ASMR has really become more of a thing! You can find it all over social media and YouTube, but what is it and why do people like it? I hunted down some answers for you!
First, what is it? ASMR is an acronym for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, which honestly sounds more like a crazy scientific reaction than something soothing you listen to, but I promise it makes some sense. ASMR is actually the response that your body has—usually a tingling sensation that starts around your scalp and moves down the back of your neck/upper spine; it often comes along with a general sense of positivity or positive feelings. ASMR videos and recordings are created in hopes of triggering that response. People seek them out because they enjoy the sensation, but it also leaves them feeling more positive, focused, calm, energized, alert, or relaxed.
So, what exactly triggers that response? Well, it’s different for everyone (because our brains are all unique), but there are some common audiovisual triggers for many people. These include:
- Listening to a softly spoken or whispering voice
- Hearing quiet, repetitive sounds (like someone consistently turning the page of a book, writing, or typing quietly)
- Watching someone attentively complete a mundane task (like prepping food)
- Hearing lower-pitched, complex sounds
- Listening to certain types of music
- Listening to tapping (typing or someone gently tapping a nail on a harder surface)
- Watching slow-paced, detail-focused videos
Not all ASMR triggers are audiovisual; some triggers are physical too! ASMR can be triggered by (usually gentle) touch—like getting your hair brushed or makeup being applied. It can also happen with changes in temperature near your skin.
Can you think of a time you’ve experienced ASMR in action? It happens to most people, but the frequency and strength of the response depends entirely on the person. Some studies suggest that people with higher Big Five personality trait scores in “openness-to-experience" and “neuroticism” may lead to more frequent or stronger ASMR experiences.
Want to see what triggers ASMR for you? Here are some places you can find lots of options to test it out:
- Freegal Music – This is an awesome Library resource with lots of audio options, including popular songs, that you can download and keep!
- YouTube – You can search for ASMR and find tons of videos.
- TikTok – Really! There are a lot of folks who do short ASMR videos there.
- Twitch – There is a whole section of the service dedicated to ASMR streamers.
Consumer Technology Specialist