Research – Awe Walk 2017-01-13T13:40:06+00:00

Research – Awe Walk

Appreciate the World Around You

Melanie Rudd, Kathleen Vohs and Jennifer Aaker examined the effects of awe in 3 experiments. Those participants who experienced awe, rather than other emotions, felt that they had more time available, were less impatient, were more willing to volunteer their time to help others, and reported greater life satisfaction.

Read the research:

Awe expands people’s perception of time, alters decision making, and enhances well-being.

(If you have any problems following links in our research, then please copy and paste the text from our footnote* into your browser top bar)

Dacher Keltner and Jonathan Haidt were two of the first modern scientists to study awe. They looked at its history, tracing its role in ancient religious texts, including the Hindu Bhagavad Gita and the Christian Bible, and the influence of charismatic leaders such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King. They concluded that awe is an emotion that can have a tremendous impact. “Fleeting and rare, experiences of awe can change the course of a life in profound and permanent ways.”

Read their paper:

Approaching awe, a moral, spiritual, and aesthetic emotion

Jennifer Stellar et al. found that positive emotions like awe can reduce physical inflammation. They tested over 200 young adults who had experienced a variety of different emotions such as amusement, awe, contentment, joy and love. Their levels of cytokine IL-6 (a protein which causes inflammation) were measured and it was found that awe was the strongest predictor of lower levels of these inflammatory proteins.

One caveat: The researchers are still figuring out which comes first, low levels of IL-6 or the positive emotions like awe. “It is possible that having lower cytokines makes people feel more positive emotions,” Jennifer said, “or that the relationship is bidirectional.”

Here is a link to their study:

Discrete positive emotions predict lower levels of inflammatory cytokines

Further Interesting Research

The organisation Greater Good in Action has many suggestions for ways to feel awe, whether you’re in the countryside or a city, inside or outside:

Greater Good in Action: Awe Walk

One way to experience awe is to find something awesome in the natural world. Edward O Wilson is a Harvard biologist, who hypothesised that our evolutionary history has blessed us with an affinity for living things. We thrive in the presence of nature and suffer in its absence. He coined the term biophilia to describe this.

Medical evidence backs this up. Healthcare researcher Dr Roger Ulrich and his team reviewed the medical records at a Pennsylvania hospital and discovered patients recover more quickly if placed by a window with a pleasant view.

Read Roger Ulrich’s research:

View through a window may influence recovery from surgery

Edward O Wilson’s book:

Biophilia

Paul Piff, Dacher Keltner and colleagues found that as well as improving well-being, awe makes us kinder. Across five experiments, they created awe in various ways including watching videos of nature, or standing people in a grove of towering eucalyptus trees. Participants were assessed in various ways, such as playing simple games, creating diagrams of how they related to others and completing questionnaires. Awe generally made people feel smaller, more likely to help someone in need, and less likely to feel that they were superior to others.

Read the research:

Awe, the small self, and prosocial behavior

Read more about the study and awe generally in this article from Scientific American:

How Awe Stops Your Clock

Footnote*

(If you have any problems following links in our research, then please copy and paste the text below relating to the article you wish to see into your browser top bar)

Melanie Rudd, Kathleen Vohs and Jennifer Aaker
Awe expands people’s perception of time, alters decision making, and enhances well-being.
http://www.bauer.uh.edu/mrrudd/download/AweExpandsTimeAvailability.pdf

Dacher Keltner and Jonathan Haidt
Approaching awe, a moral, spiritual, and aesthetic emotion
http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/dacherkeltner/docs/keltner.haidt.awe.2003.pdf

Jennifer Stellar et al.
Discrete positive emotions predict lower levels of inflammatory cytokines
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271219293_Positive_Affect_and_Markers_of_Inflammation_Discrete_Positive_Emotions_Predict_Lower_Levels_of_Inflammatory_Cytokines

Greater Good in Action
Greater Good in Action: Awe Walk
http://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/awe_walk#data-tab-how

Roger Ulrich
View through a window may influence recovery from surgery
https://mdc.mo.gov/sites/default/files/resources/2012/10/ulrich.pdf

Edward O Wilson
Biophilia
https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/BIOPHILIA.html?id=CrDqGKwMFAkC

Paul Piff, Dacher Keltner
Awe, the small self, and prosocial behavior
https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/psp-pspi0000018.pdf

How Awe Stops Your Clock
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-awe-stops-the-clock/