|Consciousness and Information
||Our conscious experience contains and depends upon many different kinds of information. What is the relationship between how information is processed and conscious awareness?
|Grit, Talent, and Character
||Talent and grit combine to influence individual performance, but for teams performing under high-stakes, high-stress conditions, other character attributes are necessary additions.
|Can You Forgive Yourself?
||“My problem stemmed from not forgiving myself.” – Shannon A. Thompson Each of us has done things we’re not particularly proud of. It could have been something major that brought great harm or pain to another. Maybe it was some trivial matter, an action we … ...
|How listening to music in a group influences depression
||New research takes a closer look at how music influences the mood in people suffering from depression, and examines what factors might affect whether listening to sad music in group settings provides social benefits for listeners, or if it rather reinforces depressive tendencies.
|Philanthropy and Innovation May Be Keys to Meeting the...
||On previous occasions,I have written about the importance of incorporating non-governmental, non-profit and grassroots civilian organizations into the role of addressing the mental health needs of our veterans. One organization in particular that I have written extensively about is Boulder Crest Retreat, a privately funded, … ...
|Mental Health and Dental Health Go Together
||Your teeth and your brain might not seem like they have much in common, but researchers have consistently found a relationship between mental health and oral health. For example, a systematic review of studies published in 2015 showed that people with severe mental illnesses tended to have more decayed, filled...
|The brain detects disease in others even before it breaks out
||The human brain is much better than previously thought at discovering and avoiding disease, a new study reports. Our sense of vision and smell alone are enough to make us aware that someone has a disease even before it breaks out. And not only aware – we also act upon the information and avoid sick people.
|Who Experiences the Most Awe?
||Do you marvel at the wonder and beauty of life? Do you feel a positive emotional connection to nature?
If so, you might be prone to awe, that goosebumpy sensation that we get in the presence of something profound: something greater, more powerful, or more eternal than ourselves. It arises when we encounter things that challenge our sense of what’s normal or possible. Awe is feeling moved by remarkable art, expansive nature, incredible ideas or people, or acts of mind-blowing skill, among other things.
But you don’t need to visit the Grand Canyon or the Taj Mahal to feel awe; a 2015 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that watching an awesome nature video or even gazing up at very tall trees can do the trick. And feeling awe has been linked to generosity, humility, better health, and sharpened thinking, among other benefits. Basically, awe makes the world a better place.
Last year, we created an online awe quiz and invited readers to take it. It measures how much awe a person tends to experience in life, and more than 6,000 people have taken it so far.
The results suggest that you readers are an awesome group—the average score was 63 out of 75, putting you in the “high awe” range. This high score suggests that you feel wonderstruck regularly, and tend to be comfortable with the uncertain.
But do some people feel more awe than others? Who in the Greater Good community experiences the most awe? Based on our analysis of the quiz responses, here’s what we learned.
The older you are, the more awe you feel
While we sometimes describe awe as feeling “childlike” wonder, adults feel awe, too. In fact, the older you get, the more awe you tend to feel. Among those who took the quiz, awe increased significantly until around age 60, at which point it seemed to plateau. That’s something to look forward to!
We asked Dr. Paul Piff, assistant professor of psychology and social behavior at UC Irvine, to speculate on this pattern. He reasons that “a sense of novelty and gratitude for the world seems positively associated with age.” One theory of motivation suggests that we tend to direct our resources toward more emotionally meaningful goals and activities as we get older, Piff notes, and “in the world of meaning, experiences of awe are among the most meaningful people can have.”
Gender makes a difference
Women’s awe scores were greater than men’s: Women scored 64 out of 75 on average, compared to men’s 61. While it may be tempting to conclude that women are extra awesome, these results don’t necessarily imply a deeply rooted or biological sex difference, because people were answering surveys about themselves.
In fact, women tend to score higher than men on most Greater Good quizzes, which could be less reflective of their levels of well-being-related traits and more reflective of the way they tend to respond to online quiz questions. For starters, responders for this quiz were overwhelmingly women: 78 percent vs. 21 percent men (37 people indicated their gender as non-binary.)
When we asked Piff to weigh in on why women scored higher in awe, he speculated that it could come down to how awe tends to make us feel small.
“Men score higher on dominant traits like narcissism and entitlement, and they tend to be more status-seeking and power hungry—cultural norms play a big role in all this,” he says. “But awe, by virtue of making you feel less powerful than something else, may not be something men prioritize or value; maybe it even threatens their masculinity.” So maybe social norms steer men to avoid feeling awe.
Your income and location matter less than you may think
Where you live doesn’t seem to matter at all. We did not find any notable difference in awe scores between people who live in rural areas, suburban neighborhoods, or cities.
How much money you earn doesn’t seem to make a big difference, either—though people who make less than $25,000 per year did report lower levels of awe. The good news is that if you make $25,000 or more, whether your annual salary is $50,000 or $150,000, you are likely to experience similar levels of awe (among Greater Good readers, at least).
In his own nationwide study, Piff found that higher income may be related to less awe. “If income relates to feelings of power and entitlement, those are inimical to feelings of awe, which relate to feelings that one is part of something greater than oneself,” he says. “Wealthier individuals may be less prone to awe and less likely to seek out awe-inspiring experiences for those very reasons.”
Spirituality and awe are connected
The Greater Good awe quiz results show a clear link between awe and spirituality—that is, how people answered the question, “How spiritual are you?” The more spiritual you say you are, the more awe you tend to feel.
Spirituality is often described as a feeling of connectedness to something greater than ourselves, and typically involves a search for meaning and personal growth. Extremely spiritual people scored an average of 67 out of 75, whereas people who see themselves as not at all spiritual scored 59 on average. That’s a 13 percent difference in awe scores.
How can you become more awe-some? Start by scheduling in more awe-inspiring moments, such as spending time in nature or around your favorite art. Our website Greater Good in Action can help you build awe with a collection of activities that take as little as four minutes:
Watch an awesome video that changes your perspective.
Take an awe walk somewhere vast or new.
Read an awe-inspiring story.
Pay attention to nature—and bring a camera!
Write about the last time you experienced awe to trigger that feeling again.
What do you think of our findings? Were they shocking or predictable? Let us know in the comments below—and be sure to take the awe quiz if you haven’t already.
|To Succeed in Marriage, Clear the Decks
||Do you have unfinished business? Most of us do. It’s important to gain a sense of closure about a past relationship in order to succeed in a new one. Closure, in the psychological sense, means “the state of experiencing an emotional conclusion to a … ...
|Yoga for Mental Health: Research Round-Up
||It is no secret or surprise that practicing yoga can yield tremendous benefits for the body, mind and spirit. Luckily, the explosion of research supporting mindfulness-based therapies in the healthcare field has meant that more investigators are also looking into the specific benefits of yoga. … ...
|Happy scientists are also more likely to produce the most impactful science
||A scientist’s smile might provide a small clue about how impactful his or her research is. A study recently published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found a relationship between smiling and impactful research. “This study results from two of fascinations of ours,” the study’s corresponding author, Lukasz D. Kaczmarek of Adam Mickiewicz University, told [...]
|Study finds compassionate people can be more dishonest
||New psychology research has found that compassion can sometimes be associated with dishonesty. The study, published May 11 in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, suggests that compassion can lead individuals to tell lies that are intended to benefit others. “I have always been interested in prosocial lies because of their ethical ambiguity,” explained Matthew [...]
|The Laws of Attraction: Rehab Edition
||Attractions will come and go, but for my sobriety’s sake, there need to be some ground rules when it comes to rehab romance. 1. Ring the Bell and Get Honest about Who You’re Attracted to at a Group Level. “Hola Papi.” That’s all I heard … ...
|Do You Feel Trapped By Your Social Roles?
||The stories we tell ourselves about who we are can at times constrain us. So what should we do if we want to change the story and create a new narrative of who we want to be?
|The Meaning of Disaster
||Disasters have many different meanings for many different people. Here is a personal perspective on disasters from the point of view of a volunteer disaster responder.
|Recreational cocaine: Brain area involved in addiction activated earlier than thought
||Even among non-dependent cocaine users, cues associated with consumption of the drug lead to dopamine release in an area of the brain thought to promote compulsive use, according to researchers.
|Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's diseases share common crucial feature
||A study has found that abnormal proteins found in Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases share a similar ability to cause damage when they invade brain cells. The finding suggests that an effective treatment for one neurodegenerative disease might work for other neurodegenerative diseases as well.
|Can You Have Too Much Self-Esteem?
||The time, place and culture we grow up in affects everything we experience going forward. For those who came of age when obedience ranked supreme – when “what do you know, you’re just a kid” was a given, when harsh external censors (that subsequently became … ...
|6 Signs You Are Dealing With A Narcissist
||How to tell the difference between a narcissist and someone who just has high self-esteem.
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|Free Health Insurance Makes Kids Resilient
||In the debate over health insurance, we’re forgetting that research proves that children with access to health care out-perform children with none.