Assessing Individual Variation in Personality and Empathy Traits in Self-Reported Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response

In: Multisensory Research
Agnieszka B. Janik McErlean 1Department of Psychology, James Cook University, 149 Sims Drive, Singapore 387380

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Michael J. Banissy 2Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths University of London, UK

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Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is a self-reported multi-sensory phenomenon described as a pleasant tingling sensation, triggered by certain auditory and visual stimuli, which typically originates at the back of the head and tends to spread throughout the whole body resulting in a relaxed and sedated state. Despite growing reports of ASMR there is a lack of scientific investigation of this intriguing phenomenon. This study is the first to examine whether self-reported ASMR is associated with individual differences in personality characteristics compared to general population. To do so we administered the Big Five Inventory (BFI) and the Inter-Personal Reactivity Index (IRI) to a group of individuals reporting to experience ASMR and a matched control group. Our findings showed that ASMR self-reporters scored higher on Openness to Experience and lower on Conscientiousness measures of BFI. They also showed greater scores on Empathic Concern and Fantasizing subscale of IRI. These findings are discussed in the context of the personality profile found in synaesthesia, which has been recently suggested to be more prevalent among people reporting ASMR experiences.

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