What is ASMR; The third most popular search on YouTube is the word ASMR; The same strange pleasant feeling that some people feel when they hear or watch something in their brain. Follow this article to know more about this mysterious phenomenon.
Millions of people around the world are watching a video on YouTube in which a woman in front of the camera whispers something. Without doing anything special, she just whispers softly and softly under her lips, waving her arms randomly in the air; But millions of people seem to be fascinated by this video.
For someone unfamiliar with the phenomenon, the reaction of these audiences may be strange and questionable.
This is the world of ASMR, which is the third most popular YouTube search in the world with more than 14 million searches. In one corner of the Internet, dozens or perhaps hundreds of video creators are filming themselves whispering or intricate role-playing and storytelling about time travel and demons, engaging millions of viewers for hours.
If you have not yet heard about the ASMR phenomenon or the “internal reaction of the sensory peak”, this article may seem strange to you, and although no definite scientific reason has been found for it, this feeling really exists and many people in the world take it in different ways. they experience.
Of course, you may have experienced this feeling; But you did not know that there was a name for it or that you are not alone in experiencing it. Follow this article to know more about this strange but pleasant phenomenon.
The titles you will read in this article:
- What is ASMR?
- How does ASMR feel?
- How does ASMR work?
- Where can ASMR sensitivity be detected?
- The most common ASMR stimuli
- How was the ASMR phenomenon discovered?
- Scientific basis of ASMR phenomenon
- Personality traits of people who experience ASMR
- Making ASMR videos
- The reason for the popularity of ASMR videos
- The future of ASMR
What is ASMR?
ASMR stands for “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response” and refers to the sense of pleasure and “tingling” in the brain that some people experience in response to certain images or sounds. Different people have different descriptions of this feeling; But from personal experience, the sense of ASMR can be described as a large flower bud that opens slowly in the brain and its petals tickle the soft tissues of the brain. Sometimes this feeling is felt only in the area of the brain and sometimes it reaches the shoulders and spine and gives a pleasant feeling of relaxation.
The ASMR sensation is similar to the opening of a flower bud in the brain
ASMR stimuli are numerous and may be unique to each individual; But they often involve slow, repetitive, or normal activities such as combing hair, folding towels, whispering, or tapping the surface.
Although ASMR seems like a very technical term, unfortunately not much research has been done on its cause and it does not have a solid scientific basis. The term was first coined by a user named Jennifer Allen in 2010 and she set up a group on Facebook to gather more information about this strange but common phenomenon. The term ASMR quickly came to be used by Internet users, as they eventually found a word to refer to this pleasant feeling and could talk about it more easily.
How does ASMR feel?
People who have experienced ASMR describe it as a tingling sensation on the scalp. This pleasurable feeling is created by reacting to certain sounds or images, which are called ASMR stimuli. While listening to or watching a video containing ESMR stimuli, the tingling and opening sensation of a flower bud slowly spreads throughout the body from the head and shoulders to the spine, back, arms, and legs.
The sensation of ASMR is often described as soothing and very pleasant, and since its stimuli may seem so unique and sometimes strange to people who have not experienced it, there may be misconceptions about the phenomenon.
With more than 2 million members posting ASMR videos, according to YouTube channel owner Gentle Whispering, people’s reactions to ASMR stimuli may vary from day to day, depending on their mood; For example, one day they react to watching role-playing videos, and the next day they react to the rustling sound of flipping through a book.
In addition, if you are overexposed to a particular stimulus, you may lose sensitivity to it after a while. That’s why ASMR content creators have to come up with new ideas every time they make their videos so that the audience can continue to experience this thrilling sensation.
How does ASMR work?
How ASMR works varies from person to person. Some people may say that most people do not experience it at all. On the other hand, not enough research has been done on ASMR, and what we know so far is based on stories that others have shared on the Internet about their personal experiences. As a result, no one knows for sure how the ASMR works, why it exists at all, and what features its experience requires.
People experience ASMR through a variety of stimuli. Some people who watch videos in which a person is whispering or doing extremely ordinary things like spraying water from a bottle, tapping the surface with a finger, stirring a bowl of soup, or crumpling paper experience ASMR; Others turn to role-playing videos with more complex scenarios in which a person, such as a hairdresser or a doctor, plays the role.
In general, the ASMR experience seems to have such a wide range and its stimuli are so different from person to person that it is difficult to research scientifically accurately and how it works can not be described in detail.
Where can ASMR sensitivity be detected?
Most people realize in childhood and before the age of 10 that they can experience ASMR, although the first experience of ASMR may occur in adulthood. Although some ASMR videos have millions of views, and according to ahrefs, the word “asmr” is the third most popular YouTube search, it is still unclear how widespread this phenomenon is in the world.
If you still do not know if you can experience ASMR, you can start by watching the video below, which contains audio stimuli. These stimulus models are more common than visual or attention-grabbing stimuli, and more people respond to them. If you do not find your motivator in this video, do not despair. There are many drivers for experiencing ASMR, the most common of which you will learn about below. You can also search for “asmr” on youtube and watch various videos to finally get your own stimulus.
Several ASMR YouTubers calling themselves ASMRtist (a combination of ASMR and Artist meaning artist) have channels with millions of members and videos with millions of views. As soon as you find a stimulus that makes you feel good, you can watch more videos about it or try other stimuli. People can be sensitive to several stimuli.
To improve the quality of the ASMR experience, it is best to listen to videos in a quiet environment with headphones.
The most common ASMR stimuli
A quick surf on the Internet will expose you to a sea of different ASMR videos, each based on one or more specific stimuli. In this list, we introduce 11 of the most common ASMR stimuli that you can watch related videos by searching on YouTube:
Undoubtedly, the most common ASMR stimulus is hearing whispers and whispers, and it is present in most ASMR videos. Some of the creators of these videos speak very softly instead of whispering; But overall, the soft sound makes it almost impossible for most people who can experience ASMR to experience it. If you want to find your motivator, start with videos in which they whisper something quietly.
This stimulus includes the sound of hitting the surface with long fingernails or fingertips to create a softer sound. Many video creators are very creative in choosing the type of surface they hit to make the sound different.
Maybe you are one of those people who, for example, when you go to the hairdresser for a haircut and the machine moves on your hair or the comb of your hair is pulled, the ASMR gives you a pleasant feeling. You can even use a head massager to see if you are also sensitive to tactile stimuli. It is interesting to know that some people even experience ASMR by watching videos where a person is combing their hair.
Attention stimulus is perhaps one of the strangest but most common ASMR stimuli. The attention stimulus partially overlaps with the physical touch; But it is considered a completely separate category. Sometimes just having someone look at you and paying full attention to you while listening to you is enough to make you feel ASMR.
Some ASMR videos show a person reading a book, and the focus of the video is on the sound that is produced when flipping through the book. Reading is a relaxing activity for many people, and sometimes watching someone read a book and listening to the rustling sound of paper while flipping through can make sense of ASMR.
Video stimulus videos often show a person waving his hands or a bright flashlight in front of the camera. These stimuli are less popular than auditory stimuli; But they are on this list because they are very different from other stimuli. Many people can find their own stimulus in this list; But if you have tried all of them and have not yet reached the conclusion, you can go for visual stimuli.
One of the most popular video stimulus videos is Zen Garden, and watching it can be relaxing even for people who do not respond to it.
Many ASMR videos show people running various scenarios, such as seeing a doctor, cutting their hair, or even running away from zombies. These videos can create a more personal and engaging experience to enhance the sense of ASMR.
Although many people are disgusted with watching others eat, others experience a sense of ASMR. It may sound strange to you, but eating sounds like chewing and snorting or even cooking sounds are sometimes ASMR stimuli.
Watching someone who is focused on doing something can be an ASMR stimulus for some viewers. A well-known example is the “Pleasure of Painting” program, in which Bob Ross draws all his attention to the painting while painting beautiful scenes, and beside him, speaks in a calm tone to the viewers.
Massage is the best activity to calm the nerves. Even if you can’t experience it physically, watching massage videos can make you feel ASMR in addition to stimulating attention, physical touch and a quiet voice. The best massage for the ASMR experience is facial massage.
In some ASMR videos we see people crumpling paper, plastic wrap, foil or bubble wrap. Among these, sticky sand and water-filled marbles are also very popular. Although some of these items are considered to be children’s toys, people of all ages enjoy playing with them just as much.
How was the ASMR phenomenon discovered?
The story of the discovery of the ASMR phenomenon could have been the story of any of us; But the lot fell on a girl named Jennifer Allen, who was very curious about the strange and pleasant feeling she sometimes felt on her scalp. For Jennifer, it felt like a warm wave starting from her scalp, moving along her spine, leaving a feeling of gratitude and perfection. Jennifer loved this feeling; But he did not know why. He spent nine years searching the Internet for an answer, until in 2009 his search finally reached SteadyHealth, where a user in a post titled “Strange Feeling Pleasant” talked about similar experiences and asked other users why. Explain.
Although no one explained it, many described it as a “silver spark” in the head or a tingling sensation in the scalp that went up and down in waves. Many all thought that this feeling was very pleasant. The stimuli ranged from watching a person fill out a form to listening to a whisper or even watching Bob Ross painting a scene on television.
Over time, the discussion on this forum escalated and more and more people shared their personal experiences of this pleasant feeling. The videos he watched also had a certain softness that was difficult to describe. Some wanted to form a research group so that they could better understand this feeling. Some were concerned about its social consequences. Isn’t this a kind of disease? However, pleasure is rarely without consequences.
Allen was very active in these discussions and decided to take the first step to investigate the matter himself. He concluded that as long as this needle-like sense does not have a scientific name, it will not attract the attention of any scientific association.
Finally, in 2010, he chose the name “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response” (ASMR). “Autonomous” because it was a sense of internal origin; “Sensory”, which is obvious, because it is a kind of feeling; “Meridian” means the peak and also refers to the paths in which traditional Chinese medicine believes the energy of life flows; And “Response” to indicate that this condition is not permanent and is caused by a reaction to a set of stimuli, including whispering, chewing gum, and tapping a finger.
Allen discussed the ASMR title on the SteadyHealth website and announced that he had launched the ASMR group on Facebook. Users invaded this group and soon became members of this group from all over the world. In this Facebook group, users shared ASMR videos, often involving anonymous women who spoke very quietly. One of the first such videos was called Whisper 1 – hello, in which a woman whispers something in a very low voice. The video was posted on YouTube in 2009; But because it had a weak title, it could not elevate itself in YouTube algorithms. Of course, now, thanks to the ASMR title, these video models can be easily found on YouTube.
There were only 12 whisper channels on YouTube when Allen just discovered the SteadyHealth website. Three years later, that number tripled. Then the ASMR Wikipedia page was created, making the video genre even more popular. By 2015, the ASMR group was no longer needed, as the Internet was now full of content related to the phenomenon. The day Allen sought to name this strange feeling, he could not have foreseen the day when his chosen name would lead to a new form of entertainment or even something beyond entertainment.
Scientific basis of ASMR phenomenon
ASMR may seem like a scientific term; But the creator had no scientific background and described it solely on the basis of his personal experience and that of hundreds of other users. Although the term was coined in 2010, researchers have only recently begun to study the phenomenon, and not enough research has been done. But the few studies that have been done all believe that the reason for experiencing ASMR is probably related to the structure of the human brain.
One of the first studies to study ASMR, published in 2015, noted that this phenomenon is overlapping with sensitivity. Synesthesia is a type of nervous condition in which several different senses are stimulated at the same time and this condition does not occur for everyone; For example, a person who experiences sensation may say that he can hear colors or taste sounds; For example, a blind person experiences a red color in front of his eyes when he hears the sound of a trumpet. According to one study, only 2 to 4 percent of the population experienced the sensitization phenomenon, while 6 percent of those who experienced ASMR also experienced sensitization.
In another study, researchers performed MRI scans on participants to see if the process of combining sensory experiences might originate in the brain. When the participants compared the experienced ASMR with the control group, the researchers found that those who experienced the ASMR had more connections in parts of their brain and fewer connections in parts, especially between the frontal lobe and sensory areas. This reduction in bonding may make it easier to experience sensory-emotional communication when exposed to ASMR stimuli.
In a 2012 article on the NeuroLogica blog, Steven Novela, a clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine, suggested a possible scientific basis for the experience:
ASMR may be a seizure. Seizures can sometimes be pleasurable and occur in response to various stimuli.
Or maybe ASMR is just a way to activate the pleasure response. The vertebrate brain is basically built to experience pleasure and pain, or positive and negative behavioral feedback. We get pleasure from doing things and experiencing things that increase our chances of survival, and in return we experience pain or a negative feeling to avoid harmful behaviors and receive warnings of danger and harm. Throughout evolution, a complex set of reward and disgust feedback has been created in us humans.
Now add to that the neural diversity; the fact that the brains of all of us humans are not clones or copies of each other, but may be different in every way. We experience a wide range of pleasurable and disgusting things, and there are even individuals and subcultures that find things that are enjoyable different from what the general public thinks.
Another study in 2015 concluded that some common ASMR stimuli, including whispering, slow motion, and hissing sounds, can improve mood and even relieve pain symptoms.
The first official ASMR study, published in 2015, concluded that the drivers of this phenomenon fall into four general categories:
Whispering (75%), attention to the audience (69%), crisp sounds (64%) and slow movements (53%).
Personality traits of people who experience ASMR
Researchers are trying to find differences in the personality of people who experience ASMR with those who do not. In general, the results of studies show that people who experience ASMR are more likely to have fascinating experiences and become overwhelmed with doing something.
These people have a high score in the personality trait of “desire to experience”, which shows imagination, intellectual curiosity and interest in art and beauty. They also experience more empathy and compassion, and are more likely than others to immerse themselves in imagination and storytelling.
Making ASMR videos
For some content creators, ASMR videos are a way to showcase their artistic creativity. In fact, these people call themselves ASMRtist, meaning ASMR artists. One of the big goals of these people is to find new stimuli so that they can produce new content, and as soon as this new stimulus is found, many ASMRtists suddenly start making videos with that theme.
Making these videos can be very time consuming; For example, Maria, owner of the Gentle Whispering channel, says that to make a video, everything has to be taken into account; After these steps, he has to experiment with different sounds and angles for a few days to finally record a four- to five-hour video. At each stage, he must be careful so that the feeling of the video is so flawless that the feeling of calmness and more ASMR is transmitted to the audience.
The reason for the popularity of ASMR videos
Whether you are a member of the ASMR community or have never experienced this feeling, you may be wondering why millions of users pay attention to a video in which someone is whispering; For example, one of the Iranian Instagram pages, which considers itself ASMRtist, is full of videos of a man eating that is not even a teaser, and he only eats a lot of food in front of the camera, and many users react positively to it.
Perhaps part of this focus lies in the most important power of the Internet, and that is its ability to bring people together and raise public awareness of previously personal and hidden experiences.
Steven Novela of Yale University described the phenomenon in a 2012 post:
Human communication has grown to the point where people with unique personal experiences can find each other and eventually bring the phenomenon to the attention of the public and give it an Internet name and footprint. Of course, such phenomena are not always real; Sometimes a real pattern appears on the Internet, and sometimes illusory or erroneous patterns that resemble the cultural equivalent of the psychological phenomenon of paridolia (such as seeing a face in the clouds).
It is easy to imagine that before the Internet, millions of people who had experienced ASMR did not know what was going on and thought they were weird and tried to hide it from their families. It is only with the help of the Internet that people can find each other and suddenly realize that they are not alone in this strange experience.
The results of the first official ASMR study in 2015 showed that 98% of participants watch ASMR videos for a relaxed experience and 82% for better sleep. The study also suggested that ASMR, like meditation and mindfulness, can improve mood, relieve pain, and even temporarily relieve depression.
The future of ASMR
Since not everyone in the world is able to experience ASMR or is completely unaware of it, this field is likely to continue its exciting life only in a small corner of the Internet.
At the same time, some technological advances can make the most of ASMR. Virtual reality, for example, can be very exciting for ASMR audiences, as it offers a much stronger sense of immersion in the experience.
The owner of the YouTube channel Gentle Whispering told Vox in this regard:
Our videos have been watched by firefighters, soldiers, pilots, lawyers, single mothers, and even suicidal teenagers, who have told us that their vision and mood changed for a few minutes.
The field of ASMR research is very small and to date less than 20 articles have been published about it. A global ASMR research network was to be established in early 2021; But he could not get the required grant and was eventually forced to turn to crowdfunding.
Although ASMR is in its infancy scientifically; But behind it lies a multi-billion dollar industry. ASMR is the world’s third most popular search on YouTube, hosting more than 13 million videos to make sense of it. The top 25 makers of these videos make an average of $ 1.2 million a year on YouTube. In December 2019, the top ten YouTube ASMRists with a total of 4,450 videos, 5.7 million views and more than 24 million members. This trend is expected to continue for a long time.
A quick look at the comments posted below the ASMR videos on YouTube is enough to convince you that ASMR really helps to improve people’s mood, treat insomnia and deal with loneliness; Even though researchers have fallen short in this area and have not yet provided more accurate and scientific results in this area.
But preliminary results from a 2018 study showed that the heart rate of people experiencing ASMR dropped dramatically. This reduction in heart rate and stress levels is comparable to what is experienced during mindfulness and music therapy. But whether ASMR can or should be used as a treatment is still unclear and requires further research.
Of course, the lack of research studies on the capitalist system has not discouraged it from pursuing this field. Chocolate company Mars released the first ASMR-inspired promotional video in 2015, which focused on the sound of crumpling chocolate packaging; The following year, Pepsi and KFC also made their own ASMR-focused promotional videos. Various brands such as McDonald, Gucci, Apple and Ikea have also used ASMR drivers in advertising and social media.
ASMR is a very popular field and its popularity is increasing over time. However, there has been very little research in this area and many aspects of this phenomenon are still unclear to us. Future studies could focus on whether everyone has the potential to experience ASMR or whether it can be used as a treatment. Maybe one day research shows why only some people can experience this pleasant and strange feeling.
Have you ever experienced ASMR? If so, what were your motivations?
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