This Senior Independent Study investigated the effects of the neurological phenomenon known as Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) on facial expression discrimination. Those who experience ASMR define it as a pleasant tingling sensation that begins in the head and spreads into the body, often accompanied by relaxation and mild euphoria. ASMR can occur in response to a multitude of triggers, including comforting social interactions with another human being, and a host of online videos simulate these sorts of encounters to elicit ASMR tingles in viewers. These videos are produced, compiled, and enjoyed by an online community that has been repeatedly described as unusually prosocial and empathetic. This Senior I.S. explored ASMR and this claim by attempting to determine if ASMR stimulation enhances facial expression discrimination, one aspect of empathy. In the experimental portion of this project, ASMR-sensitive participants (experimental group) and ASMR-insensitive participants (controls) watched an ASMR-eliciting video before judging photographs of morphed facial expressions as showing positive or negative emotions. The experimental and control groups were then compared on their accuracy in this facial expression discrimination task. No significant interactions were found, suggesting that there is no link between ASMR-sensitivity and the ability to accurately read human facial expressions, meaning that no conclusions or further speculations about the mechanisms or effects of ASMR can be made at this time and meriting future scientific investigation of this subject.
Huffenberger, Amy, "Empathy & Euphoria: Facial Expression Discrimination & Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response" (2015). Senior Independent Study Theses. Paper 6677.
Social and Behavioral Sciences
ASMR, Empathy, Neuroscience
Bachelor of Arts
Senior Independent Study Thesis
© Copyright 2015 Amy Huffenberger