Awe’s effects on generosity and helping

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Awe’s effects on generosity and helping

It is unclear whether positive emotionality in general, or some specific positive emotions (e.g. other-oriented ones), but not others (e.g. self-oriented and, possibly, stimulus-oriented ones), enhance prosocial thoughts, dispositions, and behavior. We focus here on awe and argue that, although being primarily stimulus-oriented and not necessarily social in its very nature, awe should enhance prosociality for several theoretical reasons. In replicating and extending previous initial research, we found in two online experiments that the induction of awe (video clip or recall), compared to the induction of amusement or a neutral condition, leads to increased prosocial behavioral intentions of generosity (spontaneous sharing of hypothetical gains) and help of a person in need – in hypothetical everyday life situations. Awe’s effect on prosociality was independent from participants’ religiosity (in both experiments) but seemed to be clearer for those in need of such affective stimulation, i.e. less agreeable participants (Experiment 2).

The Journal of Positive Psychology Volume 11, 2016 Issue 5, Pages 522-530

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