What is ASMR you say? Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a neologism for a perceptual phenomenon characterized as a distinct, pleasurable tingling sensation in the head, scalp, back, or peripheral regions of the body in response to visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, or cognitive stimuli.
Millions of people have watched a video of a woman whispering into a camera. She doesn’t do anything particularly interesting. She just whispers in a melodic voice and makes seemingly random hand movements. Yet millions of people are mesmerized by it.
For someone who’s unfamiliar with this phenomenon, this might trigger one question: What the hell is going on?
This is the world of ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response). In this corner of the internet, dozens of video makers record themselves doing something as simple as whispering to elaborate sci-fi role-plays and developing storylines about time travel and demons, and millions of viewers gobble it all up. As one of those regular viewers, let me explain what’s going on.
1) What is ASMR?
ASMR is the term for the sensation people get when they watch stimulating videos or take part in other activities — usually ones that involve personal attention. Many people describe the feeling as “tingles” that run through the back of someone’s head and spine. Others say the feeling is deeply relaxing, and can even cause them to fall asleep.
Although the term ASMR may sound very technical, there’s actually no good science or research behind the phenomenon. The term is believed to have been coined in 2010 by Jennifer Allen, who started a Facebook group dedicated to finding out more about it. The term quickly caught on, as people finally had a way to reference the pleasurable feeling they had been experiencing.