What Are Intentional and Unintentional ASMR?

Updated on September 06, 2023

Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a subjective experience characterized by a pleasurable tingling sensation in the head, scalp, back, or peripheral body in response to visual or auditory triggers. There are several types of ASMR, Unintentional ASMR being one of them.

The source of this sensation is typically described as soft static noise. Beginning in 2007, ASMR began to receive public attention and media coverage. Since then, a wide range of people has been reported to experience ASMR ranging from individuals with and without previous personal experience with ASMR to individuals who do not believe in or cannot see any external stimuli present for ASMR to occur.

If you’re interested in learning more about the phenomenon and its place in our society, read on!

What is ASMR?

ASMR is a subjective experience characterized by a pleasurable tingling sensation in the head, scalp, back, or peripheral body regions in response to visual or auditory triggers. The source of this sensation is typically described as soft static noise.

In psychology and neurology, ASMR has been studied to aid sleep induction (providing benefits such as reduced insomnia and improved sleep quality) and an experience that triggers relaxation.

There has been some research into whether ASMR may improve anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And there have also been studies exploring the possibility that ASMR may help those susceptible to high levels of stress and anxiety.

In addition to these potential health benefits, ASMR is often reported to provide users with a sense of intimacy from the person who created the audio stimuli. This helps make ASMR more accessible for people experiencing loneliness or social isolation by providing them with a method for self-soothing.

Different Types of ASMR

Common types of ASMR includes:

  • Unintentional ASMR
  • Intentional ASMR
  • Chatting and crinkle
  • Auditory-tactile stimulation

Intentional and Unintentional ASMR

Unintentional ASMR

Unintentional ASMR is sounds or actions made unconsciously. For example, you are folding laundry, writing on the computer, brushing your teeth, etc.

These sounds may not be reconditioned from these actions but instead pre-confirmed to tingle certain aspects of your brain, e.g., placing anything on paper can escalate tension and relaxation if the article is slightly rough.

The most common examples of unintentional ASMR are well-coordinated acts or utensils/ instruments playing something or an effect of high/ low frequencies audio recording tones in loose coordination of visuals which eases your brain enough to release beta rhythms (puts you into a state of wakeful relaxation) hence creating unintentional ASMR like effects in sleepers and listeners (since it has already been proven that unintentional ASMR has 1000x more substantial effect or much more productive than intentional waves does)

Unintentional ASMR is relaxing, no matter what cause it is. Many of us may have experienced unintentional ASMR in receiving medical treatment. After all, it feels perfect to be touched by a caring medical professional!

The anticipation and preparation for such treatment can bring shivers and tingles because we want a deep and warming touch that makes us feel loved and cared for.

However, this euphoria-inducing relaxation response is entirely different in origin from the intentional ASMR one mentioned above.

In fact, at present, there exists no reliable method to induce this euphoric sensory stimulation response intentionally until we know better how emotions develop. In terms of what we do right now, it will happen naturally when you touch deeply those you care about or appreciate for reasons beyond any possible rewards the other person may have intended to impose upon you if he knew you prefer this nurturing touch experience - even by strangers!

And so yes, please feel free to experience any number of the euphoria-inducing relaxation responses in the presence of any caring tinglers (be they partner, friends, or medical professionals.

Intentional ASMR

Intentional ASMR is different in that it is intentionally created for relaxation and enjoyment. This can be accomplished through purposefully repetitive and coordinated sound or movement. These sounds could include facial massage, hair brushing, stylist, role-playing for an audience, or the like.

The critical component is to pick sounds that resonate with you. Individual sounds and sensations will trigger different reactions, but any intentional ASMR experience will be limited in its influence until you find the ones that resonate with you.

Intentional ASMR content creators are often referred to as ”ASMRtists” because of their ability to trigger these relaxation-inducing ASMR responses. They can accomplish this through several different methods: by inventing new triggers, through transmission with personal instructions and storytelling, or by utilizing pre-existing sensations such as tapping their fingernails, crumpling paper, or the like.

No two ASMRtists are alike in style; they all have their triggers and methods of delivery. Finding one that works for you is part of the fun.

How Can ASMR Help People?

Many people are curious about ASMR because it is a transformative experience. Some use ASMR to help fall asleep, while others use it as a stress reliever. Some also use it to alleviate depression.

There are several different ways that ASMR helps people, but the most common is through sound or visual triggers.

These triggers can come from various sources, such as whispering, tapping, scratching, and crinkling. The experience often feels calming and relaxing to those who experience it, which has led some people to believe that ASMR is an unintentional response to the sounds generated by another person in the same room.

Others have argued that ASMR could be intentional because those who create triggers know what they are doing when selecting certain sounds and employ specific techniques during their videos or recordings.

One video creator even acknowledged that some viewers might find her work relaxing and calming. After all, this content does have an intended function for those who make it.

How Can One Experience ASMR?

ASMR is a subjective experience that can activate based on many different triggers. Some of the most common triggers include personal attention (like talking to someone one-on-one), watching another person perform a task with their hands, and listening to gentle voices speaking nearby. This is why it’s so hard to pinpoint exactly what causes someone to feel ASMR. Some people don’t believe in ASMR because they think there is no external stimulus for the sensation.

For you to experience ASMR, all you have to do is watch or listen to something that activates your brain’s sensory meridian response (or MAP) pathway.

These pathways are responsible for sending and receiving signals from our sensory organs like our skin, eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and mouth — which are then interpreted by our brain as feelings of pleasure— tingling or otherwise. We don’t know where the pathway begins or ends, but we do know that it runs along the back of your head and neck down your spine into your pelvic region!