Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Psychology: Clinical-Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Jeffrey Kahn


The present study discussed the mechanism behind awe’s ability to improve affect. Proposed mechanisms include a lowered level of self-focused attention and a heightened level of self-transcendence since awe experiences have been found to decrease self-interest and significance (Bai et al., 2017; T. Jiang & Sedikides, 2021). To examine self-focused attention and self-transcendence as potential mediators for the relationship between awe and positive affect, this study utilized therapeutic writing techniques. In a between-subjects design, participants were randomly assigned to write about either a personal experience of awe or a neutral experience. Following this, participants filled out questionnaires assessing affect, level of awe induced, self-focused attention, and self-transcendence. Ultimately, 431 participants (college student from the Department of Psychology) of at least 18 years old were included. Half of the proposed mediation model was supported—only the path from condition to self-transcendent experience to positive affect was significant. This provides support for self-transcendence as a mechanism by which awe improves affect. Additionally, the awe recall writing intervention did relate to significantly greater feelings of awe than the neutral writing intervention, indicating that writing about awe may be an effective method of inducing it. This study addressed the mechanism by which awe has therapeutic effects in an effort to (a) increase knowledge of awe in general, (b) increase knowledge of what makes certain experiential alternatives to talk therapy effective, and (c) assess the effectiveness of writing about awe experiences as a more direct method of accessing the benefits of awe. KEYWORDS: Awe; self-focused attention; self-transcendence; positive affect; well-being.


Imported from Chall_ilstu_0092N_12352.pdf


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