Science Explains Why We Love Listening To Bob Ross

Despite the fact that he passed away in 1995, Bob Ross, the beloved host of long-running PBS series The Joy of Painting, is more popular than ever. Fans still flock to classic Bob Ross videos, but not just for Ross’s gentleness, contagious love of nature, and simple yet brilliant philosophical nuggets. For many of us, Ross elicits the phenomenon known as ASMR. What are we talking about? Watch a bit of the video below:

Did you experience a mild euphoric sensation, a bit of a tingle in your head, or maybe even goosebumps? Well that is what’s known as autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR. And while the term has only been around for a few years, it’s something we’ve all experienced at one time or another and for many of us, our first ASMR experience was with Bob Ross.

Craig Richard, a professor in the Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences at Shenandoah University in Virginia who also runs a website called ASMR University, was initially skeptical of the phenomenon but told The Star Tribune that after thinking about Bob Ross, he became an ASMR believer.

Richard reflected on his early memories of Ross:

“I remembered coming home from school as a kid, flipping channels and stopping on Bob Ross because his voice was so magical. I’d set up a big floor pillow and fall asleep halfway through. I don’t think I ever watched him finish a painting.”

So what’s the deal? For some it’s Ross’s baritone voice or the tapping of the brush. For others, it’s the way Ross connects with his audience and makes us feel like he cares. And then there are some viewers who are just lulled by the act of watching Ross paint. But no matter what the reason, when we get those “tingles,” we’re experiencing the effects of brain chemicals such as serotonin and oxytocin — the “love” hormone.

Watching ASMR-inducing videos, like those old episodes of The Joy of Painting, induce the release of these hormones and endorphins that relax us and relieve stress. In other words, Bob Ross actually has the power to turn us all into “happy little trees.”