31 May 2015

"Experience doesn't fit expectations, you have to recalibrate..."

Awe is the perception of something so physically or conceptually vast that it transcends your view of the world and you need to find ways to accommodate it. It's a basic sense that what you have experienced doesn't fit in with your expectations of the world, so you have to recalibrate.
Paul Piff, University of California, Irvine.

Piff and colleagues say that an exercise designed to inspire awe encouraged subjects to endorse more ethical decisions, lower their sense of entitlement and report more 'prosocial' values in which they pay more attention to the needs of others than their own.  Piff and Dacher Keltner write:
Our research finds that even brief experiences of awe, such as being amid beautiful tall trees, lead people to feel less narcissistic and entitled and more attuned to the common humanity people share with one another... 
We suggest that people insist on experiencing more everyday awe, to actively seek out what gives them goose bumps, be it in looking at trees, night skies, patterns of wind on water or the quotidian nobility of others.

See also The science of awe


Image: Eucalyptus Regnans by Patche99z via wikimedia.

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