Untangling the tingle: Investigating the association between the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR), neuroticism, and trait & state anxiety

Charlotte M. Eid, Colin Hamilton, Jo Greer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is an intensely pleasant tingling sensation originating in the scalp and neck and is elicited by a range of online video-induced triggers. Many individuals now regularly watch ASMR videos to relax, and alleviate symptoms of stress and insomnia, all which are indicative of elevated levels of anxiety. Emerging literature suggests that ASMR-capable individuals are characterised by high trait neuroticism, which is associated with a tendency to experience negative emotional states such as anxiety. To date however no literature has empirically linked these personality constructs and watching ASMR videos on the effect of reducing anxiety. In the current study, 36 ASMR-experiencers and 28 non-experiencers watched an ASMR video, and completed assessments of neuroticism, trait anxiety, and pre- / post-video state anxiety. MANCOVA with Group as the independent measures factor showed that ASMR-experiencers had significantly greater scores for neuroticism, trait anxiety, and video engagement than non-experiencers. Pre-video state anxiety was also significantly greater in the ASMR-experiencers and was significantly attenuated on exposure to the ASMR video, whereas non-experiencers reported no difference in state anxiety pre- and post-video. Thus, watching ASMR alleviated state anxiety but only in those who experienced ASMR. Subsequent mediation analyses identified the importance of pre-existing group differences in neuroticism, trait and (pre-video) state anxiety in accounting for the group difference in the reduction of state anxiety. The mediation analysis further lends support for watching ASMR videos as an intervention for the reduction of acute state anxiety. Future areas for research are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS One
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 5 Jan 2022

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