Most dogs have a special spot that if touched will make one leg do a meaningless little dance. It’s pretty obvious they like it. Nobody has the slightest idea why, especially not the dog. Sounds can have similar effects. Sirens make dogs howl. My mother told me it was because their ears hurt, but look at a dog’s face when he does it some time, and what you’ll see is the look of joy.
People share this sensory phenomenon. What do most of us do with bubble wrap when we have the opportunity?
Why? Because we like the sound. Why do we like the sound? Now we are getting into complicated territory.
Do certain sounds give you goose bumps? The first thing that comes to mind is fingernails scraping across a chalk board, but there are pleasant goose bump sounds too. People have that response to music—excluding rap—commonly. Some visual responses bring it on. We see something that satisfies us in a peculiar way we can’t describe and have to keep looking. Paintings hit this neurological note sometimes. So do natural things like lightning flashes, and sunrises, and that incredible first smile on a baby’s face that pediatricians tell us has nothing to do with socialization.
There is relatively new label for this old phenomenon. It’s called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response—ASMR for short. If you put ASMR into your search engine you’ll find a number of videos that will send goosebumps down the spines and even onto the legs of some people. If you don’t get it, you’ll think it’s a case of the Emperor’s new clothes, but a large segment of the population gets it every single time If they are imagining things isn’t that every bit as interesting as things you can weigh and measure?
ASMR stimuli are variable. Manu of the videos involve a pretty girl whispering into the camera. Sometimes she’s pretending to give you a haircut, or an eye exam, or a facial. Sometimes she folds paper, or a towel, or does some other benign, boring task while her sibilants pop and she seems to be focusing her attention almost 100% on the viewer.
Bob Ross, the Joy of Painting guy, is about the only man who can pull this off, and it is a beneficial side effect (for some people) of his videos. Women are better at it. Maria (no last name), the reigning queen of gentle whispering videos thinks the stimulus recalls mother child experiences. Besides, a man whispering into a video camera is just creepy.
Here are some Links to You Tube ASMR videos: