For outsiders, ASMR has always been weird. “One thing that’s interesting about the ASMR experience is that it’s about close personal attention,” says Giulia Poerio, a psychology professor at the University of Sheffield who has undertaken multiple ASMR studies. Role-play videos thrive in the ASMR community – online, you can watch someone pretend to be your dentist, masseuse, or even a receptionist checking you into a hotel. “They’re basically a simulation of what would happen if you got ASMR in real life,” Poerio explains. “Multiple triggers are layered to get an effect.”
A minor detail, I know, but I’d really appreciate it if you wouldn’t call the head massager an “orgasmatron”. There are enough attempts by the media, both advertent and inadvertent, to sexualize ASMR, and we really don’t want newcommers to get the wrong idea. Those who experience ASMR may be able to easily look past the dis-analogy, but for those who don’t, it’s little things like this that make it that much harder.
The vast majority of people who seek out ASMR do so as a method of relaxation, according to the 2015 Swansea University study, which found that 98% of participants turned to ASMR for this purpose. 82% of participants reported using ASMR as a sleep aid, and 70% said ASMR helps them feel less anxious. Other participants reported ASMR eased their symptoms of depression, boosted their mood, and brought relief for chronic pain. Beyond this study, some people have even said that ASMR acted as a form of therapy to help them work through trauma.
Many of those who experience ASMR report that some specific non-vocal ambient noises are also effective triggers of ASMR, including those like the sound of rain, fingers scratching or tapping a surface, the crushing of eggshells, the crinkling and crumpling of a flexible material such as paper, or writing. Many YouTube videos that are intended to trigger ASMR responses capture a single person performing these actions and the sounds that result.