Evidence That It Works
In a series of studies, researchers asked mainly white college students to think of a time when they witnessed someone “doing something good, honorable, or charitable for someone else. They found that this recall exercise led to an experience of elevation, or the feeling that “one has been uplifted,” enhancing participants’ desire to emulate the virtue they had recalled. Furthermore, participants reported wanting to become a better person and having greater motivation to do good for others.
The researchers also found that college students who were asked to notice and make a written record of everyday acts of elevation, such as witnessing others doing something good for someone else, were in turn more motivated to be kind to others.
Why Does It Matter?
Witnessing moral beauty elicits awe and elevation, both of which enhance prosociality, connectedness, inspiration, and the motivation to be morally better. Indeed, when students demonstrate kindness towards others, they themselves experience greater positive affect, life satisfaction, happiness, and peer acceptance. These outcomes not only help foster a desirable classroom climate, but also improve academic success.