Seeing Awe-Inspiring Artwork Makes Kids Extra Beneficiant, New Research Reveals

Live performance halls, film theaters, and museums serve as the crossroads of creative expression. Regardless of their distinctive identities, all of them share a profound capability to evoke awe.

Awe, because it seems, is greater than only a fleeting sensation.

Analysis has linked it to an elevated deal with others’ wants in adults, and now, new findings in the journal Psychological Science counsel that it will probably additionally foster generosity in youngsters.

The Artwork of Awe

“Awe, an aesthetic and ethical emotion, helps societies flourish by making youngsters extra beneficiant,” say Eftychia Stamkou and colleagues Eddie Brummelman, Rohan Dunham, Milica Nikolic (University of Amsterdam), and Dacher Keltner (University of California, Berkeley).

“Our analysis,” they proceed, “is the primary to reveal that awe-eliciting artwork can spark prosociality in youngsters, even encouraging them to donate tangible sources, and this impact concurs with physiological processes related to social engagement.”

Awe descends upon us after we are confronted with one thing huge, both conceptually or bodily, that makes us really feel small and places our sense of self into a bigger social context, Stamkou mentioned.

Whereas earlier analysis has proven that youngsters develop a way of self – a vital part of awe – by age 5, it was unclear how this may relate to their capability for experiencing awe.

Empathy on the Silver Display screen

Of their new paper, which was revealed on February 6, 2023, Stamkou and her crew found that viewing awe-inspiring movie scenes can encourage youngsters as younger as 8 to prioritize others’ well-being.

Within the first of two research, 159 on-line contributors aged 8 to 13 seen considered one of three movie clips beforehand proven to elicit awe, pleasure, or neutrality.

After viewing, contributors reported their emotions and accomplished two duties. The primary activity concerned counting objects donated to a college meals drive for native refugees, and the second supplied contributors the selection to donate their reward—a museum ticket—to a refugee household or hold it for themselves.

Kids who watched the awe-inspiring video counted 50% extra objects for the meals drive and have been 2 to three occasions extra prone to donate their museum tickets than youngsters within the different situations.

“Kids led to really feel awe have been extra prone to forgo self-gain to assist refugees,” the researchers famous.

The Physiology of Awe

In a second research, the researchers measured the respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) of 384 youngsters whereas watching mood-inducing movies.

Though these youngsters didn’t depend extra objects for the meals drive, they have been considerably extra prone to donate their reward to a meals drive for refugee youngsters.

RSA elevated in response to the awe-inspiring video and decreased in response to the joyful and impartial movies.

These outcomes align with earlier analysis on adults, wherein awe experiences elevated exercise within the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), supporting emotion regulation and social engagement.

“These bodily advantages of awe have downstream penalties on people’ social relationships,” the researchers noticed.

Awe’s Potential in Little one Improvement

These findings not solely reveal that youngsters as younger as 8 can expertise awe, but additionally that creating awe-inspiring environments might nurture prosocial conduct.

Stamkou plans to analyze how physiological measures like RSA can be utilized to measure awe in even youthful youngsters.

For example, a 1- or 2-year-old toddler might not grasp the idea of awe, however their responses to singing and music may reveal deeper emotional connections than beforehand imagined, suggests Stamkou.

Constructing Awe-Inspiring Areas for Kids

The potential advantages of awe in fostering prosocial conduct emphasize the significance of designing environments that encourage this highly effective emotion.

Educational institutions, cultural facilities, and public areas may incorporate awe-inspiring parts, reminiscent of artwork installations, structure, and pure landscapes, to stimulate empathy and generosity in youngsters from an early age.

Additional Analysis and Implications

These groundbreaking research have opened the door to new inquiries into how awe and its physiological correlates can affect baby improvement.

By exploring the connection between awe, RSA, and social conduct in youthful youngsters, researchers can deepen our understanding of tips on how to domesticate empathy and prosocial conduct from the earliest levels of life.

The ability of awe in fostering a way of group and generosity throughout age teams highlights the importance of making areas the place artwork and nature converge.

In the end, awe-inspiring environments might not solely contribute to the well-being of people, but additionally to the flourishing of societies as a complete.


Stamkou, E., Brummelman, E., Dunham, R., Nikolic, M., & Keltner, D. (2023). Awe sparks prosociality in children, in Psychological Science  

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