Perez, Kenneth A (2020-07). Indicators of Self-Transformative Change After Experimental Elicitations of Awe: A Meta-Analysis. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • The empirical literature on the emotion of awe has demonstrated how it can impact people in ways such as increasing prosocial behavior, but less research has investigated awe's potential to induce self-transformative changes. The onset of these changes can create sudden, profound, and lasting effects on a person's core values, relationships, goals, and motives represented in the self. The purpose of the present meta-analysis was to examine the extent to which study effects from experimental elicitations of awe differed from study effects observed from other positive emotion elicitations; whether estimations of effects differ based on study outcomes' relation to features of self-transformative change; and whether methodological and theoretical factors moderate effect size estimations. Studies (84; 487 effects, 17,801 participants) implemented elicitations of awe-inspiring stimuli against other emotion state or control conditions. Findings indicate awe elicitations produced distinguishable effects on study outcomes relative to other positive emotions and control conditions. Stronger effects of awe elicitations were associated with study outcomes with greater relation to disruption, a feature of self-transformative change indicative of state changes in cognition, affect and behavior. Weaker effects of awe elicitations were associated with study outcomes with greater relation to self-awareness, a feature of self-transformative change indicative of people's attention being oriented to individual-level concerns. Elicitations of awe generated the strongest effects on experiential outcomes of participants' emotional experiences. Effect sizes estimations were not moderated by the methodology used to elicit awe states, the valence of awe elicitors, whether participants engage with aspects of the self within the elicitation, and the gender proportion within study samples. The examined elicitations of awe fell mostly within the context of natural scenery. More consideration should be given to the spiritual and social forms of awe. The between-subjects effects observed in this investigation may not fully account for the intraindividual processes involved in self-transformative change. Further research should implement within-subjects approaches to capture the complex dynamics of self-transformative changes that result from awe.

publication date

  • July 2020