Research Repository

When a small self means manageable obstacles: Spontaneous self-distancing predicts divergent effects of awe during a subsequent performance stressor

Le, PQ and Saltsman, TL and Seery, MD and Ward, DE and Kondrak, CL and Lamarche, VM (2019) 'When a small self means manageable obstacles: Spontaneous self-distancing predicts divergent effects of awe during a subsequent performance stressor.' Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 80. 59 - 66. ISSN 0022-1031

[img] Text
AWE Manuscript (Accepted).pdf - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 27 January 2020.

Download (214kB)

Abstract

The emotion of awe occurs when one feels small relative to something vaster than the self; it leads to benefits such as care for others. However, because awe elicits the experience of a “small self,” it is unclear to what extent awe positively versus negatively affects responses to subsequent stressors. If personal obstacles seem trivial in comparison to awe-inspiring stimuli, stressors should seem either manageable or unimportant, but if one's capabilities seem comparatively insignificant, stressors should seem unmanageable. We hypothesized that awe would have a generally positive effect on responses during a subsequent performance stressor, but that this would further depend on whether people tended to spontaneously take on a self-distanced versus self-immersed perspective. In the face of awe, focusing less on the self (self-distanced perspective) should make obstacles in particular seem trivial, whereas focusing more on the self (self-immersed) should lead one's capabilities to seem insignificant. Using the biopsychosocial model of challenge/threat, we found that spontaneous self-distancing significantly moderated awe's effects on responses during a subsequent performance stressor (speech task): For participants who self-distanced, the awe condition led to cardiovascular responses consistent with greater challenge than the neutral control condition (reflecting evaluating the stressor as more manageable); for participants who self-immersed, awe predicted relative threat (less manageable stressor). There was no support for awe making people care less about the stressor (as reflected in cardiovascular responses consistent with task engagement). This offers insight into how awe can have divergent effects on people's experiences during performance stressors.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Awe, Spontaneous self-distancing, Challenge and threat, Stress and coping, Cardiovascular reactivity
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2018 14:38
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2019 16:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/23092

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item