Can You Quantify Awe?

Scott Barry Kaufman: David Yaden observed that the experimental literature on awe lacked a robust state measure of awe that included multiple dimensions of this self-transcendent experience. In his broader work, Yaden identified the core features of a self-transcendent experience: decreased feelings of self-salience and increased feelings of connectedness (see “The Varieties of Self-Transcendent Experience”). Yaden classified awe as satisfying these criteria. When my paths crossed with Yaden at Penn, we bonded over our mutual interests in self-transcendence and creativity (among other topics). Almost immediately, we got to work on creating a new awe scale that more fully captures the various aspects of the awe experience as described in the scientific literature, and that captures the essential elements of a self-transcendent experience. We were very grateful to work with a dream team of researchers, including Dacher Keltner, Elizabeth Hyde, Alice Chirico, Andrea Gaggioli, and Jia Wei Zhang.


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