Evidence That It Works
In one study, 60 undergraduate students (59% female, 53% Asian/Asian American, 33% European American, 7% Latino/Latina, 2% Black, and 5% of another ethnicity) were asked to write about experiences that elicited awe for them. The findings showed that nature, art, and music are common elicitors of awe.
In another study, undergraduate students were asked to respond to a few questions assessing their openness to aesthetics, after which they engaged in an idea-generating task. The study showed that those who reported a greater openness to art also reported feeling more inspired by it, which was related to greater creativity scores.
A study with adolescents and adults from Iran, Malaysia, and the U.S. found that those who report often feeling awe also reported having a creative and curious personality.
Finally, in a study of 447 high school students from a Midwestern state (56% White, 25% Black, 6% Hispanic-American, 3% Asian American, and 10% multi-ethnic; 54% middle class), researchers found that dispositional awe (the tendency to feel awe in general) predicted academic outcomes, i.e., work ethic, behavioral engagement, and academic self-efficacy, via curiosity. In other words, awe-inducing activities may improve academic performance.
Why Does It Matter?
It can be easy for students to feel bogged down by daily routines, the demands of school and extracurriculars, the vast amount of negative news stories on various media outlets, and other daily concerns, stifling their creativity and sense of wonder.
Experiencing awe through art and visual design can help calm students, encourage them towards greater prosocial behavior, and reawaken their feelings of creativity, inspiration, and curiosity—all of which could lead to better academic performance.