A Blog by Nature

The Science of Awe

Posted on January 5, 2015 at 4:30 AM

Can psychologists chart what happens when nature blows your mind?

The Sierra Club November 2014

Authors: Jake Abrahamson

An awe inspiring view as seen from the International Space Station at an altitude of 235 miles. ISS 007 crew, July 21, 2003. Credit: NASA JSC/ISS 07 crew image by Michael Benson


In his Sierra Club article Jake Abrahamson talks about an evening storm on a camping trip, “scientifically speaking, the storm brought me into a state of awe, an emotion that, psychologists are coming to understand, can have profoundly positive effects on people. It happens when people encounter a vast and unexpected stimulus, something that makes them feel small and forces them to revise their mental models of what’s possible in the world. In its wake, people act more generously and ethically, think more critically when encountering persuasive stimuli, like arguments or advertisements, and often feel a deeper connection to others and the world in general. Awe prompts people to redirect concern away from the self and toward everything else. And about three- quarters of the time, it’s elicited by nature.

Categories: Education, Nature, For Parents

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