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The Periscope

Curing Ignorance Through the Lens

The Biological Advantage of Being Awestruck

Grand Canyon National Park

According to a study by Stanford psychology students, experiencing a sense of awe can offset stress, sleep disorders, diminished satisfaction with life, and other adverse effects that often accompany the feeling of having too much to do and not enough time. Results showed that awe, characterized by an urge to reevaluate one’s psychological perception in the face of a significantly emotional experience, can modify a person’s assessment of time availability by bringing them “into the present moment.” Participants reported feeling as if they had more time to spend, leading to an increased enthusiasm for volunteering, a higher satisfaction with life, and an inclination to choose experiential rather than material goods.

In this video, filmmaker Jason Silva elicits the awe that is so vital to the human experience while discussing the Stanford study, Nicholas Humphrey’s research on the biological advantage of being awestruck, and Ross Andersen’s response to the Hubble Space Telescope.

Photo by Grand Canyon NPS, licensed under Creative Commons.