The Benefits of Being Awestruck

In Decem­ber 1972, astro­nauts aboard the Apol­lo 17 space­craft snapped a pho­to­graph of our Earth from an alti­tude of 45,000 kilo­me­tres. The pho­to­graph, known as “The Big Blue Mar­ble,” let every­one see their plan­et ful­ly illu­mi­nat­ed for the first time. The pic­ture, show­ing the Earth look­ing iso­lat­ed and vul­ner­a­ble, left every­one awestruck. And “The Big Blue Mar­ble” became the most wide­ly-dis­trib­uted image of the 20th cen­tu­ry. Now, less than a half cen­tu­ry lat­er, pic­tures of our plan­et bare­ly move us. And we hard­ly bat an eye­lash at videos giv­ing us remark­able views from the Inter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion.

We’re los­ing our sense of awe at our own per­il, how­ev­er. The title of a new Stan­ford study tells you all you need to know: Awe Expands People’s Per­cep­tion of Time, Alters Deci­sion Mak­ing, and Enhances Well-Being. Appar­ent­ly, watch­ing awe-inspir­ing vidoes makes you less impa­tient, more will­ing to vol­un­teer time to help oth­ers, more like­ly to pre­fer expe­ri­ences over mate­r­i­al prod­ucts, more present in the here and now, and hap­pi­er over­all. (More on that here.) All of this pro­vides film­mak­er Jason Sil­va the mate­r­i­al for yet anoth­er one of his “philo­soph­i­cal shots of espres­so,” The Bio­log­i­cal Advan­tage of Being Awestruck. It’s the first video above.

Find more awe in our col­lec­tion of Great Sci­ence Videos.


by | Permalink | Comments (2) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (2)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Sherilyn Fuentes says:

    I just watched this with my 4 year old soon to be 5 grand­daugh­ter and she and I agreed that the video was some­thing we would watch again and again so we could cap­ture the grand­ness of our lives.

  • deborah schein says:

    Inter­est­ing find­ings. I am cur­rent­ly com­plet­ing a dis­ser­ta­tion on spir­i­tu­al devel­op­ment of young chil­dren begin­ning at birth. One of the qual­i­ties that chil­dren have in abun­dance when giv­en a lov­ing secure envi­ron­ment is awe. It is one of the basic dis­po­si­tions my par­tic­i­pants stat­ed as relat­ing to a young child’s spir­i­tu­al devel­op­ment. More impor­tant­ly, they shared that the more con­nect­ed chil­dren are to oth­ers, and to things of beau­ty, the eas­i­er it is for basic dis­po­si­tions to change into com­plex dis­po­si­tions of car­ing and empa­thy.

    Who actu­al­ly wrote the orig­i­nal study that was quot­ed by exchange? How can I get a copy of it?

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.