Autonomous sensory meridian response: induction, personality, and consciousness
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 16:30 by Natalie Roberts
Altered states of consciousness (ASC) refer to qualitative shifts in an individual's pattern of mental functioning. One such experience, autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), has been relatively unexplored, despite garnering significant attention online and in the media. ASMR is a pleasurable, head-orientated tingling sensation, triggered by specific audio-visual stimuli, producing feelings of relaxation, comfort and euphoria. Common triggers include whispering, soft speaking and tapping sounds. The aim of this thesis was to explore the parameters of ASMR experiences, with respect to phenomenology, prevalence, induction and relationship to personality and consciousness correlates. This was achieved through a mixed-methods approach in 4 parts. Study 1 outlined the refinement of the newly developed ASMR-15 scale, and explored the relationship of ASMR to anxiety, misophonia and absorption. Study 2 assessed the associations between Big Five personality factors and dispositional sensitivity with ASMR propensity, and the prevalence of ASMR experiences in an undergraduate student population. Study 3 outlined the successful induction of ASMR experiences in a laboratory setting, and divergence from induced frisson. Finally, Study 4 examined consciousness correlates and the possibility of ASMR existing as an anomalous experience. Taken together, the findings of these studies suggest that ASMR propensity can be measured across generalised and niche populations, and that ASMR is a relatively common, unusual experience unaccounted for by existing constructs. In addition, ASMR appears to be associated with a number of personality traits and individual differences. Lastly, the ASMR-15 appears to be a reliable and valid measure of ASMR.