The Science Behind ASMR

The popular trend shows benefits for active listeners


Kaitlyn Willard, Features Editor


Contrary to what people perceive this fixation as, ASMR is a feeling, not a describing word. Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, more commonly known as ASMR, is essentially a tingling feeling caused by stimuli triggers usually being, but not limited to noises. The infamous paint mixing, pickle eating and–my personal favorite–soap cutting videos all fall into the this category.

This new fad is either found as enjoyable or cringe-worthy. Regardless, the infatuation of people making oddly simple noises–whispering, chewing or tapping–has risen on media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.

ASMR is similar in a sense to white noise. It is meant to cause relaxation and help with sleep. A study done at the University of Sheffield found that the people who experienced ASMR had a reduced heart rate. On average, the heart rate went down by 3.14 BPM, however, not all people experience the brain-tingling feeling while watching ASMR videos. It is recommended to wear headphones when listening to ASMR videos to get the full experience.

The same study showed people who find ASMR relaxing may not receive the benefits. Those who do receive the benefits will feel the tingling sensation, have lesser stress and sadness and feel relaxed. Some people even show an emotional ties to it which provides a happy feeling.

Youtubers such as ASMRthechew and Instagram accounts like @satisfyingsoapcutting have made accounts dedicated to creating different forms of this trend, ranging from sounds made when eating certain foods to the sound slime makes when being handled. Typing this story on a keyboard could even be ASMR because of the clicking and typing sound.

I myself have listened to and watched ASMR videos, I even made one with friends. Although I may not receive that tingling feeling, it does cause me to feel a sense of relaxation and satisfaction. As mentioned before, I enjoy the soap cutting videos the most. It is pleasing to my eye and I even enjoy the sound of the soap being cut.

The fascination of ASMR is understandable to me.

It’s almost like when teachers erase the whiteboard, but leave that one unerased spot of the board. Students are bothered and feel discomfort. Once that spot is finally erased we feel a sense of contentment. Or when grass is mown and the lines go the same way. Remember those OxiClean commercials that would compare the dirty bathroom tiles to the OxiClean tiles. These all fulfil our senses.

It may seem like an oddity of a trend, but in reality, it is no different than all the other aesthetically pleasing things to the senses. While chomping on pickles may cause discomfort amongst some, others may find this form of ASMR may relieve the stresses around them.