- Giulia L. Poerio, Safiyya Mank, Thomas J. Hostler. The awesome as well as the awful: Heightened sensory sensitivity predicts the presence and intensity of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR). Journal of Research in Personality, 2022; 97: 104183 DOI: 10.1016/j.jrp.2021.104183
ASMR, which stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, has swept the internet with millions watching viral clips of whispered voices, delicate hand movements or tapping.
Mysteriously only some people feel this relaxing tingling sensation that spreads down the spine.
Dr Giulia Poerio, from the Department of Psychology, has discovered those who feel it are hypersensitive to the world around them.
The research published in The Journal of Research in Personality uncovered that they are more bothered by noise and movement and are easily overstimulated.
They are also more attuned to their bodily sensations such as noticing physical changes when experiencing emotions.
Dr Poerio said: “It really is a double-edged sword.
“Highly sensitive people may be able to experience intensely pleasurable feelings like ASMR but this high sensitivity also has downsides.
“For example, the noise of a pen clicking or someone chewing gum could set off a negative reaction, which others would simply ignore.”
More than 500 participants were recruited for the study and assessed for ASMR experience and measured for sensory sensitivity.
Dr Poerio now hopes to build on the findings with a view to explain how and why intensely positive emotions are experienced -which may lead to new therapeutic techniques.
“We know much less about positive emotions compared to negative ones, especially when considering complex emotional experiences like ASMR,” added Dr Poerio
“I’m interested in trying to understand these under-researched emotions so that we might find ways of enhancing them in people’s everyday lives.”
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Fans of ASMR videos are more sensitive to their environment, study finds