Exploring the effect of cross-modal perceptions, creativity and experience on bodily sensations, with a focus on Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR)
Wong, Lexie Li Lin
Date of Issue2017
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is a sensation that people claim to experience, triggered by certain kinds of sound stimuli. The sensation has been popularized among a subset of YouTube users in recent years, with little scientific research on the veracity or mechanisms of the experience. This study aimed to find out how ASMR works in terms of whether people experience tingling sensations when exposed to canonical ASMR stimuli, as well as which parts of their bodies they experience it in. In addition, the study aimed to investigate the role of expectations in the experience of ASMR-type sensations, by giving participants different information before being exposed to ASMR stimuli. Participants were given either typical descriptive information about ASMR or information on a fictional condition, the “Nadir Spontaneous Efferent Response” (NSER). NSER was described as generating a different set of sensations as compared to ASMR (numbness-floating versus tingling-relaxing), experienced in different bodily locations (forehead-extremities versus head-shoulders-neck). By comparing bodily experiences described by participants in the two conditions, we aimed to uncover how much of the effect is driven by expectation. Participants were also given the Creative Imagination Scale (Barber & Wilson) to measure their suggestibility. The strength of responses was compared across people with different levels of suggestibility. Results showed that ASMR was not affected by expectations. When exposed to ASMR stimuli, participants felt tingling sensations and numbness mostly on their neck, at the crown and back of their head and on their shoulders. There was also no relationship found between the Creative Imagination Scale and ASMR.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University