Beyond tingles: An exploratory qualitative study of the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR)

Enya Autumn Trenholm-Jensen, Lindsey Burns, Jill Ellen Trenholm, Christopher James Hand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
162 Downloads (Pure)


This qualitative exploratory study investigated the embodied experiences and the meanings of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) from the viewer's perspective. ASMR research has been sparse and largely quantitative, assuming it to be a predominantly fixed physiological response of "tingles", despite the acronym being rooted in pseudoscience. A qualitative research design was adopted to facilitate the exploratory nature of the study in this under-researched area. In contrast to the mostly survey-based research on ASMR, this study employed semi-structured interviews as a means to understand the lived experience of ASMR and to promote participant agency. Six self-identifying ASMR consumers were recruited using a mixture of snowball and opportunity sampling. Semi-structured interviews were conducted both in person and using Skype to facilitate transnational data collection. Interview transcripts were analysed using an inductive, data-driven approach to thematic analysis. The analysis suggests that ASMR is felt to provide a social environment of comfort rather than a solely physiological-based experience. Three key themes emerged: who and what defines ASMR? (reflecting the variety of what was classed as ASMR and what content was consumed to produce the response); "real" intimacy tailored to me (reflecting the idiosyncratic perception of intimacy made possible through ASMR); and emotional relief on my terms (reflecting the role of ASMR in self-soothing). The present data reflect a rich, complex experience of the ASMR consumer, pointing to potential wider applications and informing further research.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0277962
Pages (from-to)e0277962
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


  • Humans
  • Meridians
  • Qualitative Research
  • Data Collection
  • Emotions
  • Social Environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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