Sometimes when we experience something that is larger than life—a person, a scenic view or a phenomenon, we are overcome by an overwhelming feeling of awe. Our hearts brim with appreciation, marvel and wonderment. This sense of awe has a profound effect on us, finds new research.
Perhaps for the first time, researchers have found a way to study this feeling. Psychological scientists Melanie Rudd and Jennifer Aaker of Stanford University Graduate School of Business and Kathleen Vohs of the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management conducted three different experiments to study the effect awe has on us.
When we experience jaw-dropping moments, it alters our perception of time—we feel as if we have more time available. This also makes us more patient, less materialistic, and more willing to volunteer time to help others.
According to the researchers, this is because awe has the ability to actually change our subjective experience of time by slowing it down. Experiences of awe help to brings us into the present moment which, in turn, adjusts our perception of time, influences our decisions, and makes life feel more satisfying than it would otherwise.