Awe Research
(listed by Year)


Awe, Daily Stress, and Elevated Life Satisfaction

Yang Bai et al.

Mediation analyses revealed that (a) the association between awe and reduced daily stress can be explained by an appraisal of vastness vis-à-vis the self and (b) that the relationship between awe and decreased daily stress levels helps explain awe's positive influence upon life satisfaction. Overall, these findings suggest that experiencing awe can put daily stressors into perspective in the moment and, in so doing, increase well-being. 

The Potential Role of Awe for Depression: Reassembling the Puzzle

Alice Chirico, Andrea Gaggioli

...we proposed an up-to-date unifying proposal of awe's functioning, which allowed for a revision of all the empirical evidence supporting the potential therapeutic role of awe for contrasting specifically MDD. The core message of this work concerns the elicitation of awe as a potential therapeutic integrative intervention for contrasting depression.

Intersections between awe and the sublime: a preliminary empirical study

Clewis, R. R., Yaden, D. B., and Chirico, A.

By operationalizing aspects of the sublime drawn from influential philosophical theories and comparing them with psychological measures of awe, we find a large degree of overlap between awe and the sublime, suggesting that these two literatures could inform one another.

Piloerection is not a reliable physiological correlate of awe

Jonathon McPhetres and Andrew Shtulman

While participants self-reported high levels of goosebumps and "the chills," there was no physical evidence of this response. These results suggest that piloerection is not reliably connected to the experience of awe-at least using stimuli known to elicit awe in an experimental setting.


Why Does Awe Have Prosocial Effects? New Perspectives on Awe and the Small Self

Joshua D. PerlinL. Li

Building on theories regarding psychological selfhood, we propose that awe may interact with the self not just in terms of attentional focus but rather at multiple layers of selfhood. We further reinterpret the small self using the notion of the quiet ego from personality psychology. Linking awe to an enriched model of the self provided by personality psychology may be fruitful for explaining a range of phenomena and motivating future research.

Individual and Cultural Differences in Predispositions to Feel Positive and Negative Aspects of Awe

Masataka NakayamaY. NozakiPamela Marie TaylorD. KeltnerY. Uchida

Two studies (total N = 1245) suggests that in both Japanese and US samples, predispositions to feel positive and negative aspects of awe were separable. However, there were cultural differences...

Awe and Wonder in Scientific Practice: Implications for the Relationship Between Science and Religion

H. D. Cruz

The awe some scientists experience can be regarded as a form of non-theistic spirituality, which is neither a reductive naturalism nor theism. I will attempt to resolve the tension between these views by identifying some common ground.


Awe Yields Learning: A Virtual Reality Study

H. Anna T. van Limpt – Broers et al.

The findings of the study showed that participants felt strong feelings of awe and scored highly on overview effect constructs. Moreover, results revealed learning gains were influenced by the overview effect. This study shows the potential of using immersive virtual reality experiences in educational programs, combining wonder and learning.

Awe and the interconnected self

Chen, S. K., and Mongrain, M.

We argue that awe may promote prosocial instincts through the recognition of one’s place in a vast interconnected world and be particularly beneficial in this age of rapid technological progress and social unrest.

Big Smile, Small Self: Awe Walks Promote Prosocial Positive Emotions in Older Adults

Virginia E. Sturm, Samir Datta, Ashlin R. K. Roy, Isabel J. Sible, Eena L. Kosik, Christina R. Veziris, Tiffany E. Chow, Nathaniel A. Morris, John Neuhaus, Joel H. Kramer, Bruce L. Miller, Sarah R. Holley, and Dacher Keltner

Exploring the awe-some: Mobile eye-tracking insights into awe in a science museum

Sheila Krogh-Jespersen, Kimberly A. Quinn, William L. D. Krenzer, Christine Nguyen,

Jana Greenslit, and C. Aaron Price

In this exploratory study, we find relationships between how guests attend to features within an exhibit space (e.g., signage) and their feelings of awe. We discuss implications of using both methods concurrently to shed new light on exhibit design, and more generally for working in transdisciplinary multimethod teams to move scientific knowledge and application forward.

The construction of awe in science communication

Daniel Silva Luna and Jesse M. Bering

 Based on the latest research in affective science, however, we challenge this narrow version of awe in science communication and instead advocate a broader account of this emotion in line with a constructionist perspective. We argue that there are a variety of awe types in science communication, each with different forms and functions in relation to the mandates within the multiplicity of contexts in this cultural space. 

Awe liberates the feeling that “my body is mine”

Ryota Takano and Michio Nomura

Our findings suggest that awe might provoke a “liberation of the self” in terms of a sense of body ownership as awe has been thought to liberate existing schemas, hence informing the demonstrable implications of the psychological mechanisms of awe.


Awe, ideological conviction, and perceptions of ideological opponents

D. StancatoD. Keltner

These findings indicate that awe may lead to uncertainty and ambivalence regarding one's attitudes, a form of epistemological humility, and that this in turn may promote reduced dogmatism and increased perceptions of social cohesion.

Awe as a Social Emotion: An Overview of Insights from Social Neuroscience and Self-categorisation Theory

A. Ejova

If experiences of awe-inspiring ceremonies, leaders, historical artefacts and natural features have a prosocial component that encourages consideration of group-level interests, it is possible that the "need for accommodation" component of awe is, in many cases, a social process. Within the framework of self-categorisation theory, it might be a process of adopting the identity of a group that is broader than family-based and friendship-based groups that one typically identifies with.

Are Awe-Prone People More Curious? The Relationship Between Dispositional Awe, Curiosity, and Academic outcomes

C. AndersonDante D. DixsonMaria MonroyD. Keltner

We found that dispositional awe was positively related to people's self-rated curiosity (Study 1) and how curious they were rated by their friends (Study 2). In Study 3, we found that dispositional awe was related to academic outcomes via curiosity.

The neural correlates of the awe experience: Reduced default mode network activity during feelings of awe

M. van ElkM. A. Arciniegas GomezW. van der ZwaagH. V. van SchieD. Sauter

...Together these findings suggest that a key feature of the experience of awe is a reduced engagement in self‐referential processing, in line with the subjective self‐report measures (i.e., participants perceived their self to be smaller)

Interpersonal awe: exploring the social domain of awe elicitors

Graziosi, M., and Yaden, D

Awe was elicited by close others compared to a neutral control, although the interpersonal form of awe was less intense than awe caused by nature. Qualitative analyses revealed that awe triggered by nature was defined by themes of beauty, while interpersonal awe was defined by themes of virtue or excellence of character.

The proximal experience of awe

Nelson-Coffey, S. K., Ruberton, P. M., Chancellor, J., Cornick, J. E., Blascovich, J., and Lyubomirsky, S.

 These findings suggest that experiences that are commonly considered awe-inspiring—such as viewing a picturesque landscape—may be more appropriately conceptualized more broadly as self-transcendent. More work is needed to determine whether the documented benefits of awe may be more appropriately interpreted as the benefits of self-transcendent emotions.

Transcendence and sublime experience in nature: awe and inspiring energy

Bethelmy, L. C., and Corraliza, J. A.

Awe was defined by feelings of fear, threat, vulnerability, fragility, and respect for nature, which is perceived as vast, powerful, and mysterious. Inspiring energy was defined by feelings of vitality, joy, energy, oneness, freedom, eternity, and harmony with the universe.

Awe or Horror: Differentiating two emotional responses to schema-incongruence

Pamela Taylor, Yukiko Uchida

Study 1 observed significant differences between awe and horror in cognitive appraisals (e.g., certainty, legitimacy), indicating several areas of dissimilarity. Study 2 found evidence that awe and horror are both responses to schema-incongruence, as schema incongruence and NFA were salient in awe and horror, but not a contrast emotion.

Awe and Meaning: Elucidating Complex Effects of Awe Experiences on Meaning in life

Grace N Rivera, Matthew Vess, Joshua Hicks, and Clay Routledge

Positive affectivity has a robust positive effect on meaning in life, suggesting that positive awe experiences might increase meaning. At the same time, however, awe experiences lead to a diminished self that reflects feelings of smallness and insignificance, which might negatively predict meaning. We thus hypothesized that awe experiences can, in some contexts, produce competing indirect effects on judgments of meaning in life through happiness and small‐self feelings. 

Why Awe Promotes Prosocial Behaviors? The Mediating Effects of Future Time Perspective and Self-Transcendence Meaning of Life

Jing-Jing Li, Kai Dou, Yu-Jie Wang, and Yan-Gang Nie

Mediational data demonstrate that the effects of awe on prosociality are explained, by improving STML self and future time perspective. These findings indicate that awe may help situate individuals within broader social contexts and enhance collective concern.


Awe-full uncertainty: Easing discomfort during waiting periods

Kyla Rankin, Sara Elizabeth Andrews, Kate Sweeney

We also found partial support for the benefits of an awe induction: People consistently experienced greater positive emotion and less anxiety in the awe condition compared to a neutral control condition, although these benefits did not always improve upon the positive control experience. Importantly, these benefits emerged regardless of one’s predisposition to experience awe.

Experimentally induced awe does not affect implicit and explicit time perception

Michiel van Elk and Mark Rotteveel

The current findings indicate that lab-induced awe does not affect implicit and explicit time perception and we suggest that more ecologically valid ways to induce awe may be required in future studies.

Understanding AWE: Can a Virtual Journey, Inspired by the Overview Effect, Lead to an Increased Sense of Interconnectedness?

Ekaterina R. Stepanova, Denise Quesnel, and Bernhard E. Riecke

The results indicate that the experience of being in “AWE” can elicit some components of awe emotion and induce minor cognitive shifts in participant’s worldview similar to the Overview Effect, while this experience also has its own attributes that might be unique to this specific medium.



The development of the Awe Experience Scale (AWE-S): A multifactorial measure for a complex emotion

David B. Yaden, Scott Barry Kaufman, Elizabeth Hyde, Alice Chirico, Andrea Gaggioli, Jia Wei Zhang & Dacher Keltner

Awe is a complex emotion composed of an appraisal of vastness and a need for accommodation. The purpose of this study was to develop a robust state measure of awe, the Awe Experience Scale (AWE-S... Exploratory factor analysis revealed a 6-factor structure, including: altered time perception (F1); self-diminishment (F2); connectedness (F3); perceived vastness (F4); physical sensations (F5); need for accommodation (F6).

Assessing the Experience of Awe: Validating the Situational Awe Scale

William L D Krenzer

Awe: A Self-Transcendent and Sometimes Transformative Emotion

A. ChiricoD. Yaden

This chapter describes recent advances in the experimental literature on awe, reviews some methods of inducing this emotion in the lab, and discusses some theories regarding its functions.

Neural Basis of Dispositional Awe

Fang GuanYanhui XiangOutong ChenWeixin WangJun Chen

The neural basis of awe

Ryota TakanoM. Nomura

From awe to ecological behavior: the mediating role of connectedness to nature

Yan Yang , Jing Hu, Fengjie Jing, and Bang Nguyen

These findings indicate that awe helps broaden the self-concept by including nature and increase connectedness to nature, which in turn lead to ecological behavior. They also highlight the significance of connectedness in explaining why awe increases ecological behavior.

Oh, the things you don’t know: awe promotes awareness of knowledge gaps and science interest

Jonathan McPhetres

...these results provide the first empirical evidence of awe as an “epistemic emotion” by demonstrating its effects on awareness of knowledge gaps. These findings are also extended to the effects of awe on science interest as one possible outcome of awareness of knowledge gaps.

Creating AWE: Artistic and Scientific Practices in Research-Based Design for Exploring a Profound Immersive Installation

Denise Quesnel, Ekaterina R. Stepanova, Ivan A. Aguilar, Bernhard E. Riecke

Results suggest that AWE can elicit the target emotional experience of awe, prompt a transformative experience, and improve well-being in some participants.

The Impact o a Two-Week Intervention on Increased and Sustained Experiences of Awe

Sean Patrick Goldy

Results suggest that seeking out and attuning to awe for a prolonged period of time can increase daily and dispositional awe in a sustained way.

Absorption: How Nature Experiences Promote Awe and Other Positive Emotions

Matthew T. Ballew and Allen M. Omoto

Results indicate that nature fosters awe and other positive emotions when people feel captivated and engrossed in their surroundings. 


Awe, the Diminished Self, and Collective Engagement: Universals and Cultural Variations in the Small Self

Y. BaiLaura A. Maruskin, +5 authors D. Keltner

Evidence from the last 2 studies showed that the influence of awe upon the small self accounted for increases in collective engagement, fitting with claims that awe promotes integration into social groups.

The Dark Side of the Sublime: Distinguishing a Threat-Based Variant of Awe

Amie M GordonJennifer E StellarCraig L AndersonGalen D McNeilD. LoewD. Keltner

In the present research we tested whether there is a more negative variant of awe that arises in response to vast, complex stimuli that are threatening (e.g., tornadoes, terrorist attack, wrathful god)... Positive awe experiences in daily life (Study 4) and in the lab (Study 5) led to greater momentary well-being (compared with no awe experience), whereas threat-based awe experiences did not. This effect was partially mediated by increased feelings of powerlessness during threat-based awe experiences. Together, these findings highlight a darker side of awe.

Self-Transcendent Emotions and Their Social Functions: Compassion, Gratitude, and Awe Bind Us to Others Through Prosociality

Jennifer E. StellarAmie M Gordon, +5 authors D. Keltner

EEG correlates of ten positive emotions

Hu, X., Yu, J., Song, M., Yu, C., Wang, F., Sun, P., et al.

Based on the similarities of the participants’ ratings on the ten positive emotions, these emotions were further clustered into three representative clusters, as ‘encouragement’ for awe, gratitude, hope, inspiration, pride, ‘playfulness’ for amusement, joy, interest, and ‘harmony’ for love, serenity...To our knowledge, our study provides the first piece of evidence on the EEG correlates of different positive emotions.

Affective and Cognitive Effects of Awe in Predicting Hopelessness and Brooding Rumination

Tarani, E.


Awe’s effects on generosity and helping

Claire PradeV. Saroglou

...we found in two online experiments that the induction of awe, compared to the induction of amusement or a neutral condition, leads to increased prosocial behavioral intentions of generosity (spontaneous sharing of hypothetical gains) and help of a person in need – in hypothetical everyday life situations.

Seeing the world in awe : intra-individual and interpersonal changes

Claire Prade

The Mind of the “Happy Warrior”: Eudaimonia, Awe, and the Search for Meaning in Life

Alexander F. DanversMakenzie J. O’NeilM. Shiota

Existential philosophy emphasizes the role of conscious analysis in developing a meaning framework, and we suggest that powerful awe experiences facilitate a cognitive and motivational mindset that is especially conducive to this personal work.

Experiencing versus contemplating: Language use during descriptions of awe and wonder

Kathleen E. Darbor, Heather C. Lench, William E. Davis & Joshua A. Hicks

There were differences in the language used to describe these positive emotional states, consistent with the theorised functions of each emotion. Awe was related to observing the world, reflected in greater use of perception words. Wonder was related to trying to understand the world, reflected in greater use of cognitive complexity and tentative words. 

The Potential of Virtual Reality for the Investigation of Awe

Alice Chirico, David Bryce, Yaden, Giuseppe Riva, and Andrea Gaggioli

We suggest that virtual reality (VR) is a particularly effective mood induction tool for eliciting awe. VR provides three key assets for improving awe... We discussed the potential and challenges of the proposed approach with an emphasis on VR's capacity to raise the signal of reactions to emotions such as awe in laboratory settings.

Up speeds you down. Awe-evoking monumental buildings trigger behavioral and perceived freezing

Yannick Joye and Siegfried Dewitte

Overall, our findings suggest that very tall buildings can be a trigger of awe, and that experiencing this emotion can involve a state of behavioral freezing.


Openness to experience and awe in response to nature and music: Personality and profound aesthetic experiences

P. SilviaKirill FaynEmily C. NusbaumR. Beaty

Awe, the small self, and prosocial behavior

Paul K. PiffPia DietzeM. FeinbergD. StancatoD. Keltner

Assessing whether practical wisdom and awe of God are associated with life satisfaction

Krause, N., and Hayward, R. D.



Using a simulated environment to investigate experiences reported during space travel

Shaun Gallagher, et al.



Awe, Uncertainty, and Agency Detection

Piercarlos Valdesolo and Jesse Graham

Neurophenomenology: An integrated approach to exploring awe and wonder

Lauren Reinerman-Jones, et al.

2012 and previous

Awe Activates Religious and Spiritual Feelings and Behavioral Intentions

P. V. CappellenV. Saroglou

Awe Expands People’s Perception of Time, Alters Decision Making, and Enhances Well-Being

Melanie RuddK. VohsJ. Aaker

The nature of awe: Elicitors, appraisals, and effects on self-concept

M. ShiotaD. KeltnerAmanda K. Mossman

Approaching awe, a moral, spiritual, and aesthetic emotion

D. KeltnerJ. Haidt

A Conceptual Clarification of the Experience of Awe: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Edward BonnerH. Friedman


Awakening to an Awe-Based Psychology

K. Schneider