Monday, November 12, 2012

Awe is good for you…

What could most of us could do to chill out and expand our subjective sense of time? Feel a sense of awe more often! Rudd et. al. do a series of experiments illustrating that it expands our perception of time, alters decision making, and enhances well-being.

In a first experiment the authors examined whether awe would alter time perception by first manipulating whether people were induced to feel awe or happiness and then having them rate self-perceived time availability. A second experiment examined whether feeling awe, relative to feeling happiness, would alter time perception (i.e., impatience) and, in turn, willingness to donate time. A third experiment tested whether awe, compared with a neutral state, would increase participants’ choice of experiential (vs. material) goods and momentary life satisfaction, two outcomes that they hypothesized would follow from awe’s ability to expand perceptions of time. In experimental versus control subjects, awe was elicited by reliving a memory, reading a brief story, or even watching a 60-s commercial (the awe-eliciting commercial depicted people in city streets and parks encountering and interacting with vast, mentally overwhelming, and seemingly realistic images, such as waterfalls, whales, and astronauts in space.)

And, here is their abstract:

When do people feel as if they are rich in time? Not often, research and daily experience suggest. However, three experiments showed that participants who felt awe, relative to other emotions, felt they had more time available (Experiments 1 and 3) and were less impatient (Experiment 2). Participants who experienced awe also were more willing to volunteer their time to help other people (Experiment 2), more strongly preferred experiences over material products (Experiment 3), and experienced greater life satisfaction (Experiment 3). Mediation analyses revealed that these changes in decision making and well-being were due to awe’s ability to alter the subjective experience of time. Experiences of awe bring people into the present moment, and being in the present moment underlies awe’s capacity to adjust time perception, influence decisions, and make life feel more satisfying than it would otherwise.

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