Understanding Awe

It can be hard to generalize what people consider jaw-dropping, but Vohs says research demonstrates what consistently creates an awesome experience. Travel ranks high. So does gazing at the cosmos on a clear night or watching a sensational film, as well as anytime we encounter massive quantities: colorful tulips in bloom, a bustling market in India, or a stunning school of fish.

Novelty and perceptual vastness forces us into the present moment. The study underscores the importance of cultivating small doses of awe in the everyday to boost life satisfaction.


"The experience of awe is one where you are temporarily off-kilter in terms of your understanding of the world," explains Vohs. "People mostly walk around with a sense of knowing what is going on in the world. They have hypotheses about the way people behave and what might happen; those are pretty air-tight. It is hard to get people to shake from those because that’s just how the brain works. We are always walking around trying to confirm the things we already think. When you are in a state of awe, it puts you off balance and as a consequence, we think people might be ready to learn new things and have some of their assumptions questioned." Rudd, of Stanford, is currently working on a follow-up study to understand just how awe-inspired moments might open a person up to learning new information.


The sense of wonder has health benefits, may open us up to learning new information, but what is it exactly?

Folksonomies: learning cognition wonder education health awe

/art and entertainment/humor (0.629327)
/sports/walking (0.501349)
/travel (0.500102)

perceptual vastness forces (0.945289 (positive:0.301754)), new information (0.910376 (neutral:0.000000)), Awe The sense (0.823055 (positive:0.730699)), health benefits (0.625153 (positive:0.730699)), bustling market (0.619194 (positive:0.654154)), sensational film (0.614845 (positive:0.772196)), colorful tulips (0.612593 (positive:0.620636)), awesome experience (0.610179 (positive:0.763885)), massive quantities (0.603853 (positive:0.303729)), stunning school (0.599254 (positive:0.370748)), small doses (0.596783 (positive:0.933299)), present moment (0.587868 (positive:0.301754)), clear night (0.585998 (positive:0.772196)), life satisfaction (0.579658 (positive:0.933299)), awe-inspired moments (0.552970 (neutral:0.000000)), people (0.551308 (positive:0.476707)), follow-up study (0.541373 (neutral:0.000000)), new things (0.516524 (neutral:0.000000)), Vohs (0.348394 (positive:0.763885)), world (0.339356 (positive:0.490107)), hypotheses (0.287792 (negative:-0.271562)), Rudd (0.287724 (positive:0.236652)), consequence (0.286102 (positive:0.391177)), wonder (0.284846 (positive:0.730699)), cosmos (0.284083 (positive:0.772196)), assumptions (0.283209 (neutral:0.000000)), bloom (0.279461 (positive:0.620636)), Novelty (0.278132 (positive:0.301754)), Travel (0.277874 (positive:0.441844)), research (0.277050 (positive:0.763885))

Vohs:Person (0.831074 (positive:0.763885)), in bloom:FieldTerminology (0.586366 (positive:0.620636)), Rudd:Person (0.579116 (positive:0.236652)), Stanford:Organization (0.529943 (neutral:0.000000)), India:Country (0.520987 (positive:0.654154))

Perception (0.930346): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Understanding (0.868950): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Knowledge (0.744478): dbpedia | freebase
Sense (0.668006): dbpedia | freebase
Psychology (0.660432): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Learning (0.659067): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
In Bloom (0.610617): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago | musicBrainz
Walking (0.609909): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc

 Make Time for Awe
Electronic/World Wide Web>Internet Article:  Bosler, Cayte (Dec 18 2013), Make Time for Awe, The Atlantic, Retrieved on 2013-12-19
  • Source Material [www.theatlantic.com]
  • Folksonomies: wonder awe