Saturday 21 October 2017

Awe therapy 'could make us nicer'

Examples might include experiencing a breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon, or taking in the ethereal beauty of the Northern Lights
Examples might include experiencing a breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon, or taking in the ethereal beauty of the Northern Lights

A jaw-dropping moment really can make time appear to stand still - or at least slow down, new research suggests.

Regular "awesome" experiences may also improve our mental health and make us nicer people, claim psychologists.

The findings raise the prospect of "awe therapy" to overcome the stressful effects of fast-paced modern life.

Awe is the emotion felt when encountering something so vast and overwhelming it alters one's mental perspective.

Examples might include experiencing a breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon, taking in the ethereal beauty of the Northern Lights, or becoming lost in a dazzling display of stars on a clear, dark night.

The new research found that by fixing the mind to the present moment, awe seems to slow down perceived time. Studies on groups of volunteers showed that experiencing awe made people feel they had more time to spare.

This in turn led them to be more patient, less materialistic, and more willing to give up time to help others.

Writing in the journal Psychological Science, the scientists led by Melanie Rudd, from Stanford University in California, concluded: "People increasingly report feeling time-starved, which exacts a toll on health and wellbeing.

"Drawing on research showing that being in the present moment elongates time perception, we predicted and found that experiencing awe, relative to other states, caused people to perceive they have more time available and lessened impatience.

"Furthermore, by altering time perception, feeling awe led participants to more strongly desire to spend time helping others and partake in experiential goods over material ones."

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