Evidence That It Works
Experiments have demonstrated that when even brief moments of awe are induced, people report less of a focus on themselves and an expanded appreciation of humans’ interconnectedness. For example, in a series of 6 studies of over 2,000 people, real world and lab experiences of awe led to people feeling a smaller sense of self—in other words, they felt like one part of a larger system.
Moreover, in a study of 1,545 people from China between ages 16 -71, researchers found that feeling awe on a regular basis was associated with greater prosocial tendencies, in part through an increase in feelings of connectedness to other humans and living things.
Why Does it Matter?
When students experience awe they may be more able to appreciate interconnections and complexities of the world and move away from self-focused or limited beliefs—all foundational skills for transformative learning and prosocial citizens. For example, in two studies of over 500 mostly Dutch-speaking children between ages 8 – 13, children who watched brief movie clips that elicited awe were more likely to donate their research earnings to refugees than children who watched joy-eliciting or neutral clips.