Awe and wonder are precious but elusive psychological states that are difficult to research experimentally. We conducted a first person phenomenological enquiry in an effort to explore awe and wonder conceptually. Awe is typically described as a state in which vastness and the need to adjust to new information is experienced. Based on a literature review and on observations from our phenomenological exploration we propose that vastness and need to adjust are not necessary, only possible characteristics of awe and wonder. Both phenomena are characterized by a range of other critical attributes that we with explored in our enquiry, such as receptiveness and quality of attention. They can also be differentiated on a number of dimensions - for instance by the extent to which they evoke the experience of a subject/object divide. We propose a set of qualifications to the existing concepts and discuss the relevance of awe and wonder in research settings where such approach-related capacities provide an important complement to the common mindset of skepticism and critique.
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This work was supported by the Software AG Stiftung.
Participants in this research were only the authors of the research article. No further participants were involved. Participation in this project involved no risks that went beyond the risks of normal life.
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Weger, U., Wagemann, J. Towards a conceptual clarification of awe and wonder. Curr Psychol 40, 1386–1401 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-018-0057-7