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The Science of Awe

1 Jun 2019 9:00 AM | Catherine Duffy (Administrator)

THE SCIENCE OF AWE
by Summer Allen, Ph.D.

If you’ve hiked among giant sequoias, stood in front of the Taj Mahal, or observed a particularly virtuosic musical performance, you may have experienced the mysterious and complex emotion known as “awe.”

Awe experiences are self-transcendent. They shift our attention away from ourselves, make us feel like we are part of something greater than ourselves, and make us more generous toward others.

But what is awe? What types of experiences are most likely to elicit feelings of awe? Are some people more prone to experiencing awe? And what are the effects of awe?

While philosophers and religious scholars have explored awe for centuries, it was largely ignored by psychologists until the early 2000s. Since then, there has been growing interest in exploring awe empirically. This has led to a number of fascinating discoveries about the nature of awe, while also raising many questions still to be explored.


In September 2018, the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, published a white paper written by Summer Allen, Ph.D., about the science of awe as it's so far been explored. To read more from this white paper, click here: 

https://ggsc.berkeley.edu/images/uploads/GGSC-JTF_White_Paper-Awe_FINAL.pdf


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