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

In: Multisensory Research
View More View Less
  • 1 Department of Psychology, James Cook University, 149 Sims Drive, Singapore 387380
  • 2 Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths University of London, UK

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.

  • Banissy M. J., Cohen Kadosh R., Maus G., Walsh V., Ward J. (2009). Prevalence, characteristics, and a neurocognitive model of mirror-touch synaesthesia, Exp. Brain Res. 198, 261272.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Banissy M. J., Cassell J., Fitzpatrick S., Ward J., Walsh V., Muggleton N. G. (2012). Increased positive and disorganised, but not negative, schizotypy in synaesthetes who experience colour from letters and tones, Cortex 48, 10851087.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Banissy M. J., Holle H., Cassell J., Annett L. E., Walsh V., Spiller M. J., Tsakanikos E., Ward J. (2013). Personality traits in people with synaesthesia: do synaesthetes have an atypical personality profile, Pers. Individ. Differ. 54, 828831.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Barratt E. L., Davis N. J. (2015). Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR): a flow-like mental state, Peer J. 3, e851. DOI:10.7717/peerj.851.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cheadle H. (2012). ASMR, the Good Feeling No One Can Explain. The Vice. http://www.vice.com/read/asmr-the-good-feeling-no-one-can-explain. Retrieved January 20, 2015.

  • Chun C. A., Hupe J. M. (2016). Are synesthetes exceptional beyond their synesthetic associations? A systematic comparison of creativity, personality, cognition, and mental imagery in synesthetes and controls, Br. J. Psychol. 107, 397418.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Crawford H. J. (1982). Hypnotizability, daydreaming styles, imagery, vividness and absorption: a multidimensional study, J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 42, 915926.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davis M. H. (1980). A multi-dimensional approach to individual differences in empathy, JCAS Cat. Sel. Doc. Psychol. 75, 9891015.

  • Davis M. H. (1983). Measuring individual differences in empathy: evidence for a multidimensional approach, J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 44, 113126.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Eagleman D. M., Kagan A. D., Nelson S. S., Sagaram D., Sarma A. K. (2007). A standardized test battery for the study of synesthesia, J. Neurosci. Meth. 159, 139145.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fairyington S. (2014). Rustle, tingle, relax: The compelling world of A.S.M.R., The New York Times. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07/28/rustle-tingle-relax-the-compelling-world-of-a-s-m-r/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0. Retrieved January 20, 2015.

  • Janik McErlean A. B., Banissy M. J. (2016). Examining the relationship between schizotypy and self-reported visual imagery vividness in grapheme-colour synaesthesia, Front. Psychol. 7, 131. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00131.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jastreboff M. M., Jastreboff P. J. (2002). Decreased sound tolerance and tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT), Aust. N. Z. J. Audiol. 24, 7481.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • John O. P., Donahue E. M., Kentle R. L. (1991). The Big Five Inventory — versions 4a and 5. Institute of Personality and Social Research, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA.

  • John O. P., Naumann L. P., Soto C. J. (2008). Paradigm shift to the integrative big-five trait taxonomy: history, measurement, and conceptual issues, in: Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research, John O. P., Robins R. W., Pervin L. A. (Eds), pp.  114158. Guilford Press, New York, NY, USA.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rader C. M., Tellegen A. (1987). An investigation of synaesthesia, J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 52, 981987.

  • Rouw R., Scholte H. S. (2016). Personality and cognitive profiles of a general synesthetic trait, Neuropsychologia 88, 3548.

  • Schweizer T. A., Li Z., Fischer C. E., Alexander M. P., Smith S. D., Graham S. J., Fornazarri L. (2013). From the thalamus with love: a rare window into the locus of emotional synesthesia, Neurology 81, 509510.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Simner J., Ward J. (2003). Lexical-gustatory synaesthesia: linguistic and conceptual factors, Cognition 89, 237261.

  • Simner J., Mulvenna C., Sagiv N., Tsakanikos E., Wetherby S. A., Fraser C., Ward J. (2006). Synaesthesia: the prevalence of atypical cross-modal experiences, Perception 35, 10241033.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Smith S. D., Fredborg B. K., Kornelsen J. (2016). An examination of the default mode network in individuals with autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), Soc. Neurosci. 31, 15.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ward J. (2013). Synesthesia, Annu. Rev. Psychol. 64, 4975.

  • Wu M. S., Lewin A. B., Murphy T. K., Storch E. A. (2014). Misophonia: incidence, phenomenology, and clinical correlates in an undergraduate student sample, J. Clin. Psychol. 70, 9941007. DOI:10.1002/jclp.22098.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 2433 1221 45
Full Text Views 485 148 4
PDF Downloads 90 48 2