You can kind of understand why. To people who don't experience ASMR, the videos can rightly look completely ridiculous. Also, because a sense of intimacy can be a very powerful trigger, it's no surprise that some of the best artists are very attractive girls, and there's clearly some personal security risks when you're putting your face out there and developing strange online relationships with people who might start to rely on a false sense of intimate connection with you.
This image from video provided by Michelob shows a frame from their 2019 Super Bowl commercial for Michelob Ultra Pure Gold. The ad features the actress Zoe Kravitz using techniques for autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR. It is described as a tingly euphoric response, usually starting on the head and scalp, and sometimes spreading down the neck, arms or back. (Michelob ULTRA via AP)
Just as the reasons vary, so do the triggers. A 2015 study examined ASMR triggers and found that whispering was the most common, with 75% of participants saying it caused body tingles. 64% of participants cited "crisp sounds," like the crackling of foil or tapping of fingernails, as triggers, and 53% said "slow movements," like pouring water, were triggers. Although different people prefer or only react to certain triggers, they typically seek them for the same reason: the physical and emotional side effects.
Another unanswered question: why do some people experience ASMR while others don't? "The simplest answer is a genetic difference," says Richard. In the same way that some people dislike cilantro or have a high tolerance for alcohol, genetics could affect how sensitive someone is to the neurochemicals produced during ASMR. "The ability to experience ASMR could also be influenced by lifetime experiences, diet, medications, and many other factors," he says. "It's clear that researchers still have a lot to figure out."
Okay, science may never explain the shoe thing. But scroll through these lists, and the array of triggers is largely consistent: classical music, haircuts, movie trailers, Bob Ross, more Bob Ross, lots of Bob Ross, the painter best known for his popular instructional videos. Forget the bucolic landscapes; these Ross fans are fixated on his calming baritone and the rustle of his brush on the canvas.
There is no solid data about ASMR, no published research studies — not yet. The term “ASMR” is nonclinical, coined in 2010 by a woman named Jennifer Allen who started an ASMR Facebook group and later became part of a team — along with Richard — that collected and analyzed anecdotal information about the sensation. Richard also notes the work of Bryson Lochte, a Dartmouth College undergrad who has used neuroimaging technology to study ASMR for his senior thesis but has not published his results.
It's funny - for me some of these clips didn't quite work. But they sure did for my rabbit who listens to various forms of media - tv, radio, conference calls, me - most of the day. He usually is quite a passive listener and will only occasionally respond with ear turning or a change in position that shows he's listening to something different that has caught his attention.
Incidentally, I’m now wondering if my embarrassing tendency to well up at almost any expression of art or culture (meaning that I’ve had to perfect a whole range of distraction techniques to prevent my neighbours on the sofa/gallery/theatre/cinema from realising I’m silently blubbing away) is part of this phenomenon. Even a well placed advert, I’m ashamed to say, can set me off. It didn’t occur to me until I found out about the Tingles (sorry, hate the scientised term ASMR) that the tear jerk response might be related to my other sensations. Any thoughts on that, anyone?
Listening to a binaural recording through headphones simulates the binaural hearing by which people listen to live sounds. For the listener, this experience is characterised by two perceptions. Firstly, the listener perceives being in close proximity to the performers and location of the sound source. Secondly, the listener perceives what is often reported as a three-dimensional sound. This means the listener can perceive both the position and distance of the source of sound relative to them.
In 2019, Anheuser-Busch debuted a commercial advertisement that was aired during the 2019 Super Bowl for their Michelob Ultra "Pure Gold" organic beer featuring a time lapse video intro and various ASMR components with Zoe Kravitz performing. In the ad, Kravitz uses ASMR techniques including whispering and tapping on a Pure Gold brand bottle into two microphones.
I got the tingling effect from the Ikea fire video, right at the parts where progress is seen being made towards a fire (The smoke being produced, the ashes, the smolders to the fire itself) and it is an incredible experience. I've also definitely had this experience before with haircuts, although I rather enjoy my hair long so it's a rarity that I get to feel it so often.
ASMR is usually precipitated by stimuli referred to as 'triggers'. ASMR triggers, which are most commonly auditory and visual, may be encountered through the interpersonal interactions of daily life. Additionally, ASMR is often triggered by exposure to specific audio and video. Such media may be specially made with the specific purpose of triggering ASMR or originally created for other purposes and later discovered to be effective as a trigger of the experience.